Sunday, March 4, 2012

Suppli / Arancini

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Suppli: Ball of rice around mozzarella, coated in breadcrumbs and fried - may or may not be served with tomato sauce; native to Rome.
Arancini: Fried rice balls, coated with breadcrumbs and often filled with ragu, mozzarella, or sometimes peas; said to have originated in Sicily.

No matter what you call them, they are delizioso!  The first time I had rice balls was dining out with friends Albert and Karen during their wedding weekend about 10 years ago.  Albert is Italian and ordered these for the table.  I was in love, but for many years too intimidated to try making homemade risotto.  Now that I'm comfortable with it, I can make these at home!

I made three cheese risotto a few days ago, and since it was served as a side dish I had plenty leftover.  Enter Suppli ... they are the perfect Italian appetizer.  They go together pretty quick; the worst part of making them is heating up the oil, then waiting for it to cool and straining it later.  I'm also not a huge fan of the deep fry smell in the house - but I think I'll get over it for this little snack.  To make Suppli, it's best done with day old risotto. 

Three cheese risotto
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1 3/4 cups risotto rice
3/4 cup white wine
4 cups boiling chicken stock
1 cup grated parmesan
2-3 ounces fresh goat cheese
2 heaping tablespoons mascarpone
handful fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet or dutch oven, melt butter until hot, but not quite browning.  Add onion and cook until softened, stirring often.  Move the pot of boiling stock adjacent to the pan you are cooking the risotto in.  Add the rice and stir until the grains start to swell, then add the white wine.  When it stops sizzling and is mostly absorbed, pour in a little stock.  Add a bit of salt/pepper to start seasoning.  Stir until stock has been absorbed.  Continue adding stock, a few ladles at a time allowing each addition to absorb.  By the time you have used all the stock, your rice should be al dente.  At the last addition, turn off the heat before it is fully absorbed - you want some moisture left.  Add the three cheeses and stir until melted and combined.  Tear basil, add and stir in.  Finish with salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate leftovers for Suppli.

1/2 recipe day old three cheese risotto
2 eggs, divided
Fresh mozzarella, diced into small pieces
Plain breadcrumbs
Flour to coat
Oil to fry (peanut, canola, grapeseed)

Heat the oil to 360 degrees.  Beat one of the eggs and mix into the cold risotto.  Beat the other egg on a plate.  On separate plates place the flour and breadcrumbs.  Using your hand, grab enough rice to form a ball the size of a golf ball.  Flatten slightly in your palm, place a few pieces of the diced mozzarella in the center and close the ball around it. 
Roll the ball in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.  Using a spider strainer carefully place 3-4 balls in the hot oil.  Fry until golden brown and crispy.  Drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Cool slightly, serve warm.  If desired, serve with a tomato sauce, simple marina or ragu on the side.

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