They really are the best. Made with two types of cheese, big pieces of ham and finished with a golden, crispy coating; no one can eat just one.
If desired, omit the ham to make these cheese sticks vegetarian. Mozzarella and Emmental cheese work well for cheese sticks because they have that stretch factor when they melt. You could also use provolone or fontina.
3.5 ounces of smoked mozzarella cheese or unsmoked mozzarella
3.5 ounces Emmental cheese
7 ounces thickly sliced ham (about 3/8-inch thick)
2 eggs, beaten
Plain bread crumbs, for breading
Sunflower oil, for frying
12 to 15 (6-inch) skewers
Tomato Dipping Sauce
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 cups tomato sauce or puree
2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Cut ham into ¾-inch squares that are about 3/8-inch thick.
Cut both the smoked mozzarella and Emmental into ¾-inch cubes.
Thread ham and cheese on skewers, alternating ham, cheese, ham, cheese. Repeat to make 12 to 15 skewers.
To bread the cheese sticks: dip first in beaten eggs and then dredge in bread crumbs. Repeat breading step so that each cheese stick is coated twice.
Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. (You need enough oil to cover the cheese sticks). Test oil is at the right temperature for frying by dipping the handle of a wooden spoon in the oil. If there are steady small bubbles, the oil is ready for frying. Fry cheese sticks in batches, being careful not to over crowd the pan. Cook until evenly golden brown, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towel to remove excess oil. Serve cheese sticks hot with tomato sauce for dipping.
Tomato Dipping Sauce
Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce or tomato puree. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and basil. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Yield: 12 to 15 servings.