serves: Makes 16 sticks
Fried mozzarella is a tasty dish that children especially like; it can be half fried in advance, then reheated in the oven when guests arrive. It is great finger food to be passed around at a party.
Vegatable Oil, for frying
1 (1-pound) block low-moisture mozzarella cheese
2 cups all-purpose flour, for dredging
2 cups fine dry bread crumbs
2 large eggs
16 medium fresh basil leaves, cut in half lengthwise (optional)
Warm Marinara sauce, for serving
In a large skillet or wide shallow pot, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to about 365 degrees F. (If you don't have an oil thermometer, drop a few bread crumbs in and if they sizzle but don't burn, the oil is ready.)
Cut mozzarella into 4 slabs, then cut each slab into 4 pieces to get 16 sticks. Spread flour and bread crumbs on 2 separate plates. Put eggs in a shallow bowl and lightly beat them. Season with salt. If using the basil, dip the leaves in the beaten egg and let the excess drip off back into the bowl. Stick a leaf on each of the mozzarella sticks, down the length of the leaf and press to adhere. Don't worry if the leaf doesn't stick completely, it will stay on once you begin the breading process.
Working a few at a time, dredge mozzarella in flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs. Once all of the mozzarella sticks have been breaded, repeat dipping in the egg and then bread crumbs so that no cheese is visible.
When the oil is ready, add half of the mozzarella sticks. Fry until golden on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes in all. Remove mozzarella sticks with a spider or slotted spatula to drain on paper towels. Season with salt. Repeat process with remaining mozzarella sticks. Serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping.