Michael Chiarello’s Easy Entertaining Deck
Makes about 3 1/2 cups
Entertaining note: For an eye-catching presentation, serve the fried ceci in a paper cone inside a cocktail glass.
Drain the chickpeas in a colander, then rinse well under running cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. In a bowl, combine the chickpeas and buttermilk, stirring to coat evenly. Drain the chickpeas again in the colander, then place the colander over a clean bowl.
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. While the oil is heating, sprinkle the rice coating over the beans and shake the colander to coat the beans evenly. Repeat the process, using the coating that collects in the bowl. Don’t worry if the beans don’t absorb all the coating.
When the oil is very hot but not smoking, carefully add the beans, spreading them in an even layer. Cook, without stirring, until they are browned and crisp on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn once with a spatula and add the garlic. When the garlic turns brown, add the sage. When the sage turns crispy, add the chili slices, if using, and season with 1 teaspoon salt. At the last moment, add the lemon zest and pepper to taste.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to paper towels to drain. Serve warm or at room temperature.