Paulie, pronounced PAWL-ee, is the exterminator for Prune. He takes care of all of their “stuff,” not that they have any “stuff.” And he’s Gabrielle’s favorite kind of guy. They have spilled out onto the sidewalk together while the fumigating is happening and gotten a late night plate at the local food truck. He’s high on roach poison and Gabrielle is high on two Negronis and a long shift and they are perfectly poised to talk to one another. And man, it can get good.
It gets even better as Gabrielle takes on the role of teacher and guides Paulie through one of her recipes, Fried Zucchini Agrodolce. And don’t miss this week’s episode, Evolution, for more of Gabrielle’s teachings.
FRIED ZUCCHINI AGRODOLCE WITH CHILIES AND FRESH MINT
Serves 4 orders
6 clean, firm medium zucchini
For the agrodolce:
1 Cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 garlic cloves, slivered
2 pinches, homemade chili flakes
1. Slice zucchini into ¼” –thick rounds or long ribbons, or both, and lay out in single layer on a bakers rack set inside a sheet pan.
2. Salt lightly and evenly and set in turned-off oven to dry in the warmth of just the pilot lights for about an hour. We are looking for a papery, slightly leathery quality.
3. This is our ridiculous makeshift way of approximating sun-dried zucchini. But if you ever get the change to do this the right way, under the extraordinary heat of the southern Italian sun, you will see a big difference.
To Pick Up:
1. Fry pieces of dried, salted zucchini in ample olive oil in a small sauté pan. Make sure oil is hot when slices go in. Attend to it with a slotted spoon, flipping and dunking as needed, until zucchini is blistered and pale gold.
2. Arrange fried zucchini in a shallow bowl allowing whatever hot oil that clings to your slotted spoon to drain off into the bowl as you plate.
3. Scatter a loose handful of small picked mint leaves over the warm fried zucchini.
4. In a stainless steed, nonreactive saucepot, simmer cider vinegar and sugar until mixture begins to turn syrupy, 5-10 minutes. Add chili flake and turn off heat. Drop in slices of raw garlic, and spoon while piping hot all over and around the zucchini and mint until you smell the mint bloom under the hot liquid exactly like a tea.
5. Fire this early when the order comes in so that it has time to settle, permeate the fried zucchini and also be mellowed somewhat by the oil that will leach out of the zucchini as it rests.