Sometimes, the best dishes don’t just come from the head or the tastebuds. They often come from the heart and the memories that we keep there as we make our way through the world. It’s why some of the most inspired recipes are the ones that take people back to a specific time or place in the lives of the chefs who created them.
That’s exactly the kind of sentiment that inspired today’s recipe from our friend Chef Jim Berman, the mid-Atlantic division chef with Gordon Food Service. For our cookbook, This Is Not A Hamburger Cookbook, he shared his take on the stuffed olive that is rooted in memory as much as it is in deliciousness.
Chef Berman’s story behind the recipe says it all: “I was very fortunate to have traveled to Ascoli Piceno in the Marche region of Italy. In this amazing town, you will find people walking with paper cones similar to snow-cones but filled with delicious stuffed, fried olives. Olivi Ascolani are filled with sausage, gently coated and fried. My dish uses a variation by incorporating ground beef for a different dimension. While a bit of a chore to stuff such a small item, the payoff is great. Each bite takes me back to sunny July days walking the crooked sidewalks of this amazing town.”
Ascoli Piceno Olives
- 1 pound Ground Beef, Schweid & Sons Angus Butcher’s Blend, fine
- 1 tablespoon Chopped Garlic
- 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds, toasted
- 1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Rubbed Sage
- 1/2 teaspoon Thyme, dry
- Black Pepper and Kosher Salt
- 32 Large Castelvetrano Olives, pitted
- 1 cup Flour
- 2 Eggs, beat with 2 tablespoons of Water
- 1 cup breadcrumbs, finely milled
- Combine beef and seasonings.
- Mix thoroughly without overworking.
- Generously stuff each olive.
- Coat with flour.
- Steep in egg-water mixture.
- Coat with breadcrumbs.
- Deep fry 3 minutes, until beef is cooked to 165.
About Chef Jim Berman
Chef Jim Berman is a Pittsburgh émigré living in Delaware. As the mid-Atlantic division chef with Gordon Food Service, Jim orchestrates new menus and conducts kitchen testing. He received his formal culinary training through the American Culinary Federation’s Chefs’ apprenticeship program at the Community College of Santa Fe, New Mexico and has done stints in kitchens throughout the region including Brandywine River Museum, DuPont Experimental Station and Jessop’s Tavern. A voracious appetite for reading anything and everything about food and doing volunteer work with the Dave Matthews Band summer tours pleasantly consumes most of his free time. An advocate of using seasonal, local goods, Jim has spent time on Italy’s Adriatic Coast exploring indigenous produce of the Marche region as well as gleaning traditional cooking techniques of the area.