Venetian Dishes
fritto, dolci fritti, dolci di carnevale, carnevale, frittelle, crostoni, rufioi, rufioi di Costeggiola, soave, fritte

Rufioi from Costeggiola

  • Portions: about 40 pieces
  • Time: 1,5 hr
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Ingredients
For the pastry:

  • 350 grams of flour type 00
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 40 grams of melted butter
  • a pinch of salt
  • 130 ml of milk
  • 70 ml of white grappa
For the filling (the night before):
  • 100 g of finely shredded amaretti
  • 150 g of breadcrumbs or finely chopped dry biscuits
  • 50 g of sugar
  • 50 g of pine nuts
  • 50 g of peeled almonds
  • 50 g of chopped candied citron
  • half a liqueur glass of white grappa
  • 2 tablespoons of plum jam
  • 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

  • Abundant seed oil for frying
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling
One of the first pictures of me in the kitchen dates back to a little more than the mid-80s, when, around 3 or 4 years old, I was helping my grandmother to make crostoli.
Standing on the chair to reach the table, a mini me equipped with an apron carefully turned the handle of the machine to pull the dough: my granny then took the pulled dough, arranged it on the floured tablecloth and cut it with the wheel to give it that typical jagged edge.
Frying with open windows, with the cold February air to clean the smell from the curtains: I remember assembly lines, even in the following years, for productions so massive as to have crostoli in the house for days, as well as to donate to the neighborhood. I never understood why you could not do a single dose: to justify the great work of frying I guess.

The crostoli were strictly kneaded without following a recipe, in large colored plastic bowls, with lots of orange and lemon peel to perfume and a drop of grappa which, in addition to the aroma, seems to help the immediate leavening in the boiling oil forming many small stable bubbles.
Frittelle have always been in the background in our home: they are actually a little more difficult to make because the oil temperature is fundamental and you always risk cooking them too much outside and leaving them a little raw inside.

In my search for typical Venetian recipes, however, I came across a variant of the crostolo that I consider really deserving of the limelight, both for its flavor and for its history.
I didn't know the Rufioi until I saw that a pastry shop in my city offered them during the carnival period, in a version with pastry outside and a "mostarda" inside.
So I did some research but I found contrasting versions, like obviously all desserts that are born in poverty and that are improvised with the ingredients you have at home.

The Rufioi are the typical dessert of Costeggiola, a Veronese village halfway between Cazzano di Tramigna and Soave. It is a bundle born more than a century ago, consisting of an external sheet almost equal to that of the crostolo and with a filling that was originally made with the leftovers of the (already poor) kitchen of peasant families.
Initially salty, only later becomes a sweet. The filling is surprisingly "umami" for being of peasant origin: it contains amaretti, raisins, pine nuts, candied citron, rum, breadcrumbs and .... grana cheese.
They are the protagonists of a festival that animates the country on the day of Sant'Antonio Abate, protector of animals: thousands of them are produced and fried for days, what a beauty.

This is the recipe that I managed to reconstruct with my research.
The night before, prepare the filling by combining all the ingredients listed: make sure that the amaretti, biscuits, almonds and cedar are very finely shredded, to avoid breaking the dough.
Cover hermetically, stand in the fridge and take it out when you'll work the pastry.

Now prepare the pastry dough by pouring the flour on the work surface, creating a hole in the middle and putting all the ingredients in the center.
With a fork or spatula, start working by incorporating the flour slowly and, once blended, work energetically to obtain a smooth and silky dough.
Cover it with a bowl and let it rest.

With the help of the dough sheeter, works small portions of dough starting first from the thickest die and tightening more and more, until obtaining a uniform, thin but not too much dough.

Dip small nuts of dough spaced on the pastry, close them over the edges and cut out many small crescents with a pastry cutter, sealing the edges well.

Fry in hot oil until the puff pastry swells and turns golden: drain on absorbent paper, sprinkle with sugar and serve!