I don’t have a Sicilian grandmother, but if I did, I’d hope she’d honor recipes like Rose Sinagra Ingram of Lafayette, Louisiana. Rose carried on the grand tradition of Italian and Sicilian grandmothers everywhere and payed tribute to their long love affair with food. More than 25 years ago, she compiled her family’s culinary tradition for a delightful book called Chesta e Chida – a bit of this and a little of that.
During Lent, Sicilians would pray to St. Joseph for relief of famine. Families would create a table of three tiers of foods to present to the saint. Offerings might include pastries shaped like religious symbols, bread crumbs to represent the sawdust of St. Joseph the carpenter, and fava beans for luck. According to kitchen lore, a pantry containing a fava bean will never be empty.
With a nod to childhood memories of St. Joseph’s altars everywhere, today I’ll make pinulati, a delicious caramelized sugar coated fried dough balls that melt in your mouth. This is Rose’s recipe – why mess with perfection? Thanks, Rose, for writing it down for generations to come!
2-2 1/2 cup flour
4 eggs, beaten
Pinch of salt
oil for deep frying
sugar for syrup
Method of Preparation:
1. In large bowl, sift flour. Make a well and add the eggs. Work with hands until stiff dough is formed. Add more flour if needed.
2. Roll small amounts in rope-like fashion about the size of your little finger. Cut diagonally into 1/2 inch sections and fry in deep fat, a few at a time, until golden brown.
3. Repeat until all sections are fried. Drain on absorbent paper.
4. In heavy skillet, melt one cup of sugar until it caramelizes. Remove from heat and add a portion of the fried dough pieces. Stir until well coated.
5. If syrup gets hard before coated, place over heat for 2-3 seconds and stir.
6. Place on wet board (wet hands and run across board or countertop). With spoon, group, then with wet hands, shape into cones. These must cool slightly before handling.
7. Shape like mini Christmas trees, or round into balls.
What a wonderful tradition!