I have fallen in love with a food show called “Somebody Feed Phil.” Or maybe I’ve fallen in love with Phil himself, cause he’s adorable. Previously known as the executive producer of the popular American show, “Somebody Loves Raymond,” he somehow created his own show going around the world experiencing food!
So, is he like Anthony Bourdain? Oh my goodness no. In fact, I’d call Phil, whose real name is Phil Rosenthal, a sweet, goofy, fun- and food-loving nut! And let me say this. I’ve never teared up so much watching a food show.
So in one show about Chicago, which he calls “the city that tries to kill you” because of all of the fabulous food there, like the wonderful Chicago pizza, he goes to Monteverde, an Italian restaurant co-owned by Chef Sarah Grueneberg. And it was on this show that I first heard of tigelle.
Tigelle, pronounced ti-gel-ay, are little yeasted round breads that look similar to English muffins in the U.S. They originate from the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy, and can also be called crescente.
But it was what Chef Sarah did with the tigelle that got me wanting to investigate. She sliced one horizontally, added burrata, prosciutto butter, a thin slice of melon, and then prosciutto. Phil looked like he’d reached nirvana! Of course, all Phil has to do is look at a donut and his face really lights up!
Anthony Bourdain, god rest his soul, will always have a special place in my heart. But Phil Rosenthal, you are my hero!
The recipe I’m using is from the website called Great Italian Chefs. Tigelle recipes were not in my Italian cookbooks.
I spent a few days searching for a tigelliera, which I learned is the press with which to make these, and lo and behold, I found one on the website Taglia Pasta. If you want one check it out here.
The dough for these is a basic yeasted bread dough. And just fyi, if you use yeast regularly, buy it in bulk. I keep this bag, that was once a 1-pound bag, in the freezer and pull it out when I need it. Here’s a pound of yeast on Amazon for $7.80. Don’t buy the little packages! It would add up to about $70.00!
500g or 2 cups of 00 flour, plus extra for dusting
150g or 5 ounces lukewarm water
150g or 5 ounces lukewarm milk
25g or 1.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5g or 1 teaspoon dried yeast
5g or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Combine the milk and water and stir in the yeast. Leave for 10 minutes to activate the yeast (I always sprinkle a pinch of sugar over the yeast first.)
Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the oil, then stir in the milk mixture with a spoon. Once it starts to come together, tip out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until you have a nice, smooth dough.
Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and leave somewhere warm to proof for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Tip the dough out onto a floured surface, knead for a minute, and cover and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Then roll out to 1/2” thick. Use an 8cm cutter to cut the dough into discs. Re-roll trimmings and cut out more until all the dough is used, placing them all on a parchment paper-lined tray.
Let the dough proof for one more hour.
Heat the tigellieria over medium-high heat on a gas stove. Cook six at a time, for about 4 minutes on each side. Make sure to oil both sides of the press.
They should be puffed up and slightly browned.
It took a little time to get them to the proper color. Sometimes the dough squished a little, but that’s okay.
Like I mentioned, tigelle are just a basic bread dough, but once they cooked and sliced open, they are a vehicle for just about everything good that is Italian!
I put out prosciutto butter, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, melon slices, and some arugula.
I got the idea for the prosciutto butter from the show. I simply mixed a herbed garlic compound butter with prosciutto in the food processor. And wow is it good when it melts on hot bread!
Hopefully I’ll get the hang of using the tigelliera and do a better job next time. I saw someone in a video using small scissors to trim around each tigella and make them perfect rounds, but I like the rusticity of these.