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Fried cheese and mortadella on a stick (Stecchi Petroniani)

Fried Mortadella and Cheese Bolognese Sticks

Bologna’s culinary tradition, a treasure of opulent dishes, is a feast for the senses.
Pellegrino Artusi, an Italian culinary gastronome, has already celebrated this heritage.
The typical ingredients of the territory have been masterfully used to create incredible recipes like these fried cheese and mortadella on a stick (Stecchi Petroniani), a true delight for food enthusiasts.
In Bologna, these are called stecchi Petroniani or stecchi alla Bolognese.

Three adjectives describe, in short, the city: the Dotta (the Learned), for the presence of the oldest university in the Western world; the Rossa (the Red), the adjective describes the typical color of many facades of its buildings and roofs; the Grassa (the Fat), for the richness of ingredients and the abundance of dishes that can be enjoyed in the the city whose skyline is defined by many medieval towers.

Traditional Bolognese cuisine includes pasta, minestre, roasts, sides, fried dishes, cakes, and desserts. Among fried recipes, besides the Fritto Bolognese, there is fried cheese and mortadella on a stick.

Whether the sticks were originally part of Fritto Bolognese is not historical clear. This dish mixes sweet and savory pieces of meat, custard, vegetables, and fruit reduced to morsels, breaded, and fried.

Today, you can eat the skewers even without ordering the whole plate of Fritto Bolognese. But order the complete dish and find a couple of sticks it’s always a pleasant surprise. Also, only a few restaurants still offer this delicacy today.


Fried mortadella and cheese sticks (Stecchi Bolognesi)

The origin of the recipe

Artusi mentions both recipes, the fried cheese and mortadella on a stick (Recipe n. 203 Fritto negli Stecchini) and
n. 175 Fritto alla Bolognese (Mixed Fry Bolognese style). This is an essential information to hazard the hypothesis that the sticks were not part of second dishes. Or, even if they were born with it, they soon took their way.

The Italian name of the recipe is the descriptive title for a preparation that is as simple as it is tasty: cubes of Bolognese mortadella, one of the city’s iconic products, skewered on a wooden toothpick and alternated with squares of Emmental or Gruyere cheese.

Fried cheese and mortadella on a stick today

You can find a simplified version of stecchi Petroniani on the menu of a few restaurants.

The most significant changes over time are:

  • Little by little, the meat, except the mortadella, ended up off the stick, which today is usually composed of mortadella and cheese.
  • The previous step to the breadcrumbs, the embrace with the béchamel, is hardly used anymore. Too bad. The flavor will be less round and enveloping without the béchamel. Furthermore, the sauce protects the mortadella by keeping it “sheltered” from the intense heat of the boiling oil. If you want to make a quick version, go ahead without white sauce; I prefer to put it on.
  • The breadcrumbs call for breadcrumbs, not flour; it still does, and I recommend you follow the recipe to make the outside crispier.

Ingredients to make Skewers alla Bolognese

Recipes of Bologna

How to make fried cheese and mortadella on a stick

Place three pieces on each stick: two cubes of mortadella Bologna and one piece of cheese in the middle.

The béchamel is a coat you put on the shoulders of the Bologna and cheese, and I recommend you do that.

After you have composed the stick, dip it in the thick béchamel sauce (if you can make it the day before) and, if necessary, help yourself with a spoon to distribute it. Then gently dip in the beaten egg, then in the bread, again in the egg, and again in the bread.

Double-breading is mandatory if you try the version with béchamel sauce or balsamella, as Artusi calls it. Otherwise, you risk the sauce coming off the other ingredients as you fry, which happened to me.

However, with or without béchamel, pass the stick twice in the egg and breadcrumb.

Fried mortadella on a stick is an appetizer recipe; unfortunately, no matter how many you make, the sticks will never be enough.

Buona cucina bolognese

Other mortadella recipes
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Skewers alla Petroniana

Fried cheese and mortadella on a stick (Stecchi Petroniani)

Fried cheese and mortadella on a stick are skewers wrapped in béchamel sauce and fried - a historical recipe from Bologna.
Course Aperitif, Appetizer
Cuisine Bolognese
Keyword Bolognese sticks
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 200 g of mortadella one piece or one thick-cut slice
  • 100 g of Emmental cheese one piece
  • 300 g of béchamel sauce below, I shared the recipe

    two small eggs

  • 2 small eggs
  • 200 g of breadcrumbs without aroma and salt
  • 1 l of seeds oil


  • Cut mortadella and cheese into approximately 1.5cm cubes.
  • For about 12 sticks, place one cube of mortadella Bologna, one of cheese, and another of Bologna.
  • Cover the stick, mortadella, and cheese with the béchamel. You can help yourself with a spoon. The béchamel should be thick. It's better to prepare it the day before and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight. Below is a recipe for making a small amount of white sauce.
  • Dip each stick in egg, then in breadcrumbs, again in egg and bread.
  • Heat the seed oil, and when it is up to temperature, fry the sticks three at a time. Usually, I put the tip of a toothpick; if bubbles form, the oil is ready to fry.
  • Serve immediately. Or wrap the toothpicks in aluminum foil and keep them warm in the oven, turned off but preheated to 180C degrees (356F).

Food tip

  • Place the sticks in a water bowl to prevent them from burning in the hot oil.

Béchamel sauce

Béchamel is a butter, flour, milk, and salt sauce. In Bologna, it is flavored with nutmeg.
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Béchamel sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 20 g of butter
  • 20 g of flour
  • 1 g of salt
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 300 ml of milk


  • Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, turn off the stove, and whisk in flour, salt, and nutmeg.
  • Add the milk a little at a time with the stove off, stirring so that no lumps form.
  • When you have incorporated all the milk, put the pan back on the stove over medium-low heat and start stirring until you meet a slight resistance while stirring. Turn the stove down to low without ever stopping stirring, cook for another minute, and turn it off.
  • Turn off and cover with kitchen foil, placing it in contact with the béchamel to prevent a layer of surface film from forming.
  • Let cool and store in the refrigerator for several hours, preferably overnight.

Fried mortadella and cheese sticks (Stecchi Bolognesi)

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