Making this restaurant dish at home doesn’t require special equipment: just a freezer and a heavy Dutch oven. Sticks of mozzarella cut from a block tasted much better than string cheese and didn’t take much time. We dredged the sticks in flour, dipped them in egg, and coated them with panko bread crumbs for the hallmark crunch. Letting the coated cheese chill in the freezer ensured that instead of exploding or leaking during frying, it became pleasantly gooey and stretchy. We heated the oil to 400 degrees hotter than usual so the cold mozzarella sticks could cook up with beautifully burnished exteriors in just 1 minute. Do not use fresh or part-skim mozzarella; their high moisture content can cause the sticks to rupture in the hot oil. This recipe was developed with Sorrento Galbani Whole Milk Mozzarella, which is the test kitchen’s favorite. We do not recommend using string cheese.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- Total Time: 1 Hour
- 1 pound whole-milk mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 quarts peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 cup jarred marinara sauce, warmed
- Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and line half of rack with triple layer of paper towels. Slice mozzarella crosswise into six ½-inch-wide planks. Cut each plank lengthwise into 3 equal sticks. (You will have 18 pieces.)
- Spread flour in shallow dish. Beat eggs in second shallow dish. Pulse panko, salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder in food processor until finely ground, about 10 pulses; transfer to third shallow dish.
- Working with 1 stick at a time, dredge in flour, dip in eggs, allowing excess to drip off, and coat with panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere. Transfer to plate and freeze until firm, at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours. (Chilled mozzarella sticks can be transferred to zipper-lock bag and frozen for up to 1 month; do not thaw before frying. Let fried sticks rest for 3 minutes before serving to allow residual heat to continue to melt centers.)
- Add oil to Dutch oven until it measures about 1½ inches deep and heat over medium-high heat to 400 degrees. Add 6 sticks to hot oil and fry until deeply browned on all sides, about 1 minute. Adjust burner, if necessary, to maintain oil temperature between 375 and 400 degrees.
- Using wire skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer sticks to paper towel–lined side of wire rack to drain for 30 seconds, then move to unlined side of rack. Return oil to 400 degrees and repeat with remaining 12 sticks in 2 batches. Serve with marinara.