When I eat out, deep fried mozzarella in breadcrumbs is one of my favourite starters. There is a particular Italian restaurant I have been going to for years, purely on the strength of the amazing tomato sauce they serve it up with. This mozzarella fritta recipe brings the restaurant taste to you, so you can enjoy it any time you want without leaving the house.
I have to admit, I am a huge cheese fan and fried cheese of any kind is one of my favourite ways to enjoy it. The great thing about mozzarella is its stringy qualities when it’s hot and melty. Combine that with a crispy breadcrumb coating and I am in cheese heaven.
Mozzarella is great for stuffing dough too, try these garlic doughballs with mozzarella cheese in the middle, they taste great! Or top a pizza bread with caramelised onion chutney and enjoy the cheesy goodness.
For me, fried mozzarella is just begging for a dip or sauce. So, this particular recipe is served with a creamy and quick to make, chunky tomato sauce. When the tomato sauce is poured over the fried cheese, it looks really impressive and has a restaurant quality to it. This makes it perfect for date nights and dinner parties but is also family friendly too, the kids love it!
What is Mozzarella Fritta
Mozzarella Fritta simply means “fried mozzarella” It can be prepared with a breadcrumb or batter coating which is then deep fried and served warm.
Outside of Italy, you may also hear this called, Mozzarella in Carrozza, which means “Mozzarella in Carriage” in Italian. Although fried mozzarella is sometimes also referred to as mozzarella in carrozza, there is a slight difference in the way it is prepared.
Mozzarella in carrozza is actually a type of fried sandwich. It is prepared using mozzarella, with an egg wash and bread slices. The mozzarella is placed between the bread, which is then coated in flour, egg and sometimes breadcrumbs and is then fried. It is a typical street food or antipasto, which you can find in Campania.
Mozzarella fritta is a variation made without the bread slices and often served with a dipping sauce of some kind.
The preparation of Mozzarella fritta is pretty much the same as mozzarella sticks. Mozzarella sticks, named due to their elongated shape, are often something you find in American cuisine. In New York they are often served with a raspberry dipping sauce.
How to Make Mozzarella Fritta – Tips and Guidance
To make your deep fried mozzarella, I recommend using cooking mozzarella. Cooking mozzarella is usually found in the supermarket, sold in blocks. It is a factory made, processed version of mozzarella which has less moisture content. This makes it easier to slice and grate and you will find it tends to melt better in cooked dishes. Using fresh mozzarella in this recipe isn’t advised as you will find that it can turn the outer breadcrumb coating soggy. Using a processed mozzarella here, will ensure you have more reliable results.
If you do wish to use fresh mozzarella, allow it to drain. Slice it up into portions and place in a sieve or colander with a little salt. Leave the mozzarella to drain in the fridge over a bowl for a few hours before using.
Coat the cheese twice. This will help the mozzarella to stay inside the coating and not spill out between gaps, which is a common problem when frying mozzarella or coated cheese of any kind. Giving the cheese 2 breadcrumb layers gives it a thicker coating, making it less likely to turn into a melty mess in the frying pan.
I like to shallow fry this dish in a frying pan with a generous layer of oil. I find that I can control the cooking and keep the shape this way. It also makes it slightly less greasy.
Always serve and eat this dish hot, as the cheese begins to cool, you will find that the inside will begin to take on a rubbery texture.
Making the Creamy Tomato Sauce
You usually don’t need to reduce your sauce down too much to make your sauce when using chopped, canned tomatoes. However, if you have a can of tomatoes that is particularly watery, give it a little longer over heat to reduce and thicken before adding the cream.
You can adjust the texture. If you like it super chunky, avoid the blender. Alternatively, you can make it smoother by blending the sauce more. I prefer it somewhere in between. Making the sauce too runny and smooth, gives it a tendency to slide off the mozzarella and pool on the plate. If you prefer the sauce very smooth, I would serve it in a bowl next to the mozzarella for dipping.
You can make the tomato sauce ahead, just omit the cream and only add just before reheating and serving. This will ensure your sauce will not separate as easily. I use a double or heavy cream, which gives the sauce a thick, creamy texture and is less likely to cause problems with separation than single cream. Single cream has a lower fat content and much higher probability of curdling when it is heated beyond a certain point, I wouldn’t recommend substituting it here.
To garnish your dish, add some fresh rocket leaves and thinly sliced red onion.
Yes, freeze them uncooked on a tray before sealing in a freezer bag and storing for up to 4 months frozen. You can also cook them from frozen on a lower heat so the outside doesn’t burn before the inside is cooked.
Fresh mozzarella contains more liquid than cooking mozzarella so it’s isn’t advised. The mozzarella will be too soggy.
I prefer to freeze the sauce before adding the cream. It is much less likely to separate upon reheating in this way.
Mozzarella Fritta With A Creamy Tomato Sauce
For the Mozzarella
- 400 g Block of Cooking Mozzarella
- 1.5 Cups Panko Breadcrumbs
- 0.5 tsp Dried Basil
- 0.25 tsp Dried Oregano
- 0.5 tsp Black Pepper
- 2 Eggs
For the Sauce
- 1 Onion
- 1 Clove of Garlic
- 0.25 tsp Dried Oregano
- 1 tbsp Dried Basil
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- 400 g Chopped Tinned Tomatoes
- 150 ml Double Cream
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Cut the mozzarella into 8 pieces.
- Place the breadcrumbs into a bowl and mix in the herbs and pepper.
- Beat the egg in a separate bowl.
- Coat each piece of mozzarella in the egg and then into the breadcrumbs.
- Repeat this step again so you have a double layer of breadcrumb coating. Leave to one side.
- Once you have prepared your sauce, heat a some oil in a pan and cook each piece on both sides until it has turned golden brown.
For the Sauce
- Chop the onion and crush the garlic.
- Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion and garlic, cook until soft.
- Add the tomatoes, herbs, sugar and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat over a medium heat for a few minutes.
- Remove from the heat and place into a food processor, mix briefly so it breaks up any big lumps but doesn't make it completely smooth.
- Place back in the pan and add the cream. Mix and heat through.
- Pour over your cooked cheese and serve immediately.
Recipe Notes and Guidance
- If you wish to use fresh mozzarella, allow it to drain, sliced with a sprinkle of salt for a few hours in the fridge before using.
- Don’t skimp on the double coating of breadcrumbs, it helps to keep the mozzarella inside the layer when frying.
- You can prepare the sauce ahead. Leave out the cream until your ready to serve it to prevent separation occurring.
- You can freeze the prepared mozzarella before frying, when you wish to use it, fry it straight from frozen over a slightly lower heat to allow it to cook through before the breadcrumbs brown too much.
- The tomato sauce can also be frozen, just omit the cream before freezing and add when reheating to use.
- Garnish your dish with fresh rocket leaves and finely sliced red onion.