Crostini and Spiedini Palermitani
Crostini e Spitini
Crostino is a slice of bread roasted or fried, covered with
butter, marmalade, sauce or other ingredients.
It differs from bruschetta, which is a slice of bread, bruscato, meaning burned over coal, rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive
oil, sprinkled with cheese and salt and pepper or served with additional condiments like tomatoes, beans,
eggplants, roasted peppers, cheeses, cured meats, etc.
Crostini or bruschette are served as hors d’oeuvres, appetizers in all Italian regions,
and the local ingredients used, produce a variety of creations with different tastes and original
The Crostini and Spitini Palermitani are an unusual, delicious and unique hors d’oeuvre. In Palermo,
they are called “street food,” because they used to be sold by street vendors; now the crostini and spiedini are served in
bars, coffee shops or tavole calde, the equivalent of snack bars, which are located on every street
The crostino consists of two pieces of pan
carre’, which is white bread, stuffed with béchamel, cheese and prosciutto cotto; the spitino, is also made with two pieces of pan carre’ and stuffed with béchamel, meat sauce and peas. Both specialties
are breaded and fried, resulting in a crunchy outside and a soft and pleasant inside.
The béchamel is spiced with nutmeg; the sweet
provides the fragrance of rosemary and sage;
the meat stuffing is scented with cloves; the fried breadcrumbs that envelope the crostini add more aroma and have an addictive
Prosciutto cotto (Italian roasted ham) must be used in this
preparation. Prosciutto cotto is different from smoked ham. In fact,
prosciutto cotto is not smoked; it is slowly cooked and seasoned with
rosemary and sage, and it is available in first-class groceries like Fairway Market, Dean and Deluca in the NY
Metropolitan area, Whole Foods Markets and other supermarkets all over the U.S.A.
- 2 oz salted butter (½
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose
- 2 ½ cups whole
- Pinch of
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to
For The Crostini
- ½ lb sliced prosciutto cotto, chopped into
- ¼ cup of a mild cheese, grated
- 8 slices white bread, whole
wheat or sandwich bread
For the Spiedini
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ medium onion, diced
- ½ lb chopped meat
- ¼ cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons tomato
- 1 bay
- 2 basil leaves,
- 2 oz frozen peas (boiled in
salted water for 5 minutes)
- ¼ lb diced or grated
Caciocavallo or your preferred cheese (optional)
- Salt and
- 8 slices white bread, whole
wheat or sandwich bread
- 1 tablespoon
- ½ cup
- 3 large
- 1 lb sifted fine Italian
- Salt and pepper to
- Oil for frying (preferably
In a heavy saucepan, at low heat, melt the butter.
Add in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until well homogenized. At the same time, heat the milk in a
Increase the heat to medium and cook for 3 to 4
minutes, stirring constantly, without letting the mixture stick to the bottom or become brown. Start to add the
milk a little at a time, stirring with a wire whisk.
Continue cooking over low heat until it thickens
without lumps and there is no taste of raw flour, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt, pepper
As the béchamel cools off, mix in the diced
prosciutto and the grated cheese. Set the béchamel on the side until it cools off and thickens.
Place 4 slices of bread on the working table and
spread each slice with 1 heaping tablespoon of the mix of béchamel and prosciutto, leaving a small margin
unfilled at the edges of the bread. Cover each slice with another slice of bread and pinch the borders to
You can leave the crostini whole to serve as a snack or cut diagonally in half to serve as
appetizer. Smooth out the edges with a spatula and remove any excess béchamel. Place into a dish and set aside
to dry, until ready to fry them.
Making the Stuffing
To prepare a day ahead.
Over medium-high heat, in a 4-quart heavy saucepan,
combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil with ½ small diced onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add ½
lb of ground beef, stirring continuously until it begins to brown. Pour in ¼ cup of white wine and use a wooden
spoon to mash any clumps of meat. Add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste diluted into ½ cup of water; stir it into
the meat a little at a time. Add
additional water just to cover the chopped meat; add basil and salt and pepper to taste.
Cook for a few minutes and add 1 bay leaf and 2
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, stirring
occasionally; simmer for ½ hour or until liquid evaporates and it becomes thick. Add boiled
peas and cook sauce for an additional 15 minutes.
Let it rest a few minutes, remove cloves and bay
leaf, adjust for salt and skim off any excess oil or fat. Keep refrigerated overnight and, when ready to use,
mix in some pecorino or parmesan cheese shaved with a vegetable peeler.
As the béchamel cools off, mix in the grated cheese.
Set the béchamel on the side until it cools off and thickens.
Place 8 slices of bread on the working table and
spread each slice with ½ tablespoon of béchamel, leaving a small margin unfilled at the edges. Place 1
tablespoon of meat sauce on 4 of the slices and cover each with a slice of the bread with the béchamel; pinch
the borders to seal.
You can leave the spitini whole to serve as a snack or cut diagonally in half to serve as
appetizer. Smooth out the edges with a spatula and remove any excess. Place into a dish and set aside to
An old practice of breading the crostini and the spiedini twice is
now skipped by many people in order to make the crostini
In a wide bowl, mix ½ cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of
flour and a pinch of salt and whisk until there are no lumps; add the eggs and beat until
In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs and a pinch of
Dredge each crostino or spitino into the egg
mixture and transfer into the container with the breadcrumbs. Gently press
the breadcrumbs into the crostino.
If you choose to bread the crostini and spitini twice, repeat
the breading by dipping each crostino into the eggs and breadcrumbs
again. Set on a pan or dish. Once all crostini have been battered and
breaded, carry on with frying them.
Over a medium heat, in a 12-inch skillet, heat ¾ cup
of oil. Before the oil reaches 400 degrees, lay 2 whole (or 4 halves) crostini or spiedini into the
skillet one at a time. Fry until light golden brown on one side and then turn, about 3 to 4 minutes on each
side. Let rest on paper towels. Continue frying and add oil as needed.