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Fritter fans

Long a staple of Southern kitchens, fritters have been around in both savory and sweet versions. Corn, seafood, sweet potatoes and apples are the best-known of these deep-fried morsels. But chefs are now shaking up tradition, and fritters crafted from more unusual ingredients—like chickpeas, sunchokes and quinoa—are showing up on menus.

At Morso in New York City, all dishes are available in smaller servings as “morso” (Italian for bite) or in larger portions under the “tutto” heading. “Gorgonzola Fritters are the first or second most popular item,” notes Morso’s chef Tim Ryan. He plates the delectable mouthfuls with roasted pears, endive, frisee, spiced walnuts and apple cider vinaigrette ($14 and $19).

Ryan shares several tips for creating perfect fritters. He begins by making a classic béchamel sauce, adding Italian gorgonzola and a bit of gelatin to help it set. Then he forms the mixture into small mounds and coats them with flour, egg wash and bread crumbs. “I use panko for its airy texture, but I puree the  crumbs in a food processor to make them finer,” he explains.

The oil is the next crucial step. Ryan finds that a 70-30 percent mix of canola and extra virgin olive oil is the ideal frying medium. “The olive oil adds good flavor, but using all olive oil would be too expensive,” he says. The fritters are fried to order at 375°F so they come to the table piping hot, creamy inside and crisp on the outside. Mangia!

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