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Christmas Eve Anchovy Crullers Recipe

User Rating 4 Star Rating (1 Review)


Tasty anchovy fried breads are an Italian-American popular appetizer for holidays. Plan ahead to allow time for the yeast dough to rise.

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours


  • 1 small potato
  • Pinch sugar
  • 1 envelope yeast (not rapid-rise)
  • One 2-ounce can anchovy fillets, drained and dried (reserve 1 Tablespoon of the oil) or 6 to 10 salted anchovies, rinsed
  • 2 to 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, or a bit more
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying


Peel the potato and boil it in salted water until tender. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and mash the potato. When the water has cooled to lukewarm, mix it with the sugar and yeast; let sit for 10 minutes. Add the potato, the reserved oil from the anchovies (or 1 Tablespoon of olive oil if you've used dried anchovies), and 1 cup of the flour. Stir well (you can use an electric mixer or food processor for this) and let sit for 10 minutes.

Gradually add enough flour to the mixture to make a soft but not sticky dough, mixing after each addition. Knead for a couple of minutes, then place in a greased bowl, turning the dough ball over in the grease to coat it all over. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, or use plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 60 minutes. The dough will not double, but will swell slightly.

Pinch off small pieces of dough and roll into fingers about 4 or 5 inches long by thumb width. Flatten a section, place an anchovy fillet on top, then pinch the dough around the anchovy to enclose. Cover and allow to rise again, covered, for 15 to 30 minutes. Heat 3 to 4 inches of oil in a deep-fryer or deep kettle to 350 to 375 degrees F. (use a frying thermometer to measure temperature or put a pinch of dough in the oil; when it sinks to the bottom and quickly rises to the top, the oil is ready). Fry the "doughnuts" in the hot oil, a few at a time; drain on paper towels and serve hot or warm.

Yield: 6 to 12 servings

Recipe Source: Fish : The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking by Mark Bittman (Macmillan)
Reprinted with permission.

User Reviews

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 4 out of 5
Italian, Member robin_13

Are these known as Respels? Our Italian family has a deep fat fried bread (some anchovy filled) at Christmas Eve since I can remember

4 out of 4 people found this helpful.

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