Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rice Balls

The thought of making homemade rice balls has always intimidated me. It seemed like such a much easier to buy  a couple of them at the local Salumeria. However, it  can get pretty expensive when you have 13 regulars at the table for a family dinner.

Last Christmas, with the help of my son Mike, I decided that it was time to give it a try even though the recipe sounded  a little complicated.  

I cooked the rice early in the day and set it aside to cool. Luckily, I had some  leftover homemade meat sauce, so all I had to do was add the cooked peas and cut up the mozzarella cubes for the filling. Mike and I set up a little assembly line. We prepared the rice, formed and filled the balls, then  coated and fried them.  Surprisingly, they were the best rice balls that any of us had ever tasted.  Best of all, we produced 24 of them at a fraction of the cost.  This one is a definite thumbs up.

Rice Balls

For the Rice: (Important: Use Arborio rice)  
  • Cook according to package directions:
    • 5 cups chicken stock, canned reduced-sodium chicken broth or water
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 cups arborio rice
  • Cool rice and add:
    • 4 large eggs, beaten
    • 2 cups Pecorino Romano, grated
For the filling:
  • Cut cheese into cubes and mix sauce and peas together.  Set aside
    • 1 cup of your favorite meat sauce
    • 1 cup frozen peas, cooked and drained
    •  4 oz Mozzarella cheese cut into 24 cubes
To Coat the Rice Balls:
  • Prepare separate bowls/plates  for dredging station (flour, eggs, bread crumbs)
    • 2 beaten eggs
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups fine dry breadcrumbs
To Fry the Rice Balls:
    • Prepare a deep skillet with both:
      • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
      • ⅓ cup olive oil, plus extra for frying
      Follow Directions :
      1. Take a handful of the cooled rice mixture and shape it into a small ball in the palm of your hand. Make a well in the center of the ball and drop in 1 tablespoon of the meat sauce mixture and a mozzarella cube. Work the rice so that it completely encloses the filling, and re-form the rice into a smooth ball. Continue forming rice balls with the remaining rice, meat sauce mixture and mozzarella cheese.
      2. Whisk the 2 eggs in a mixing bowl. Spread the flour on one plate and the bread crumbs on another, in an even layer.
      3. Dredge a few of the rice balls in the flour to coat all sides. Tap off excess flour. Roll the rice balls in the beaten egg to coat, allowing any excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Finally, roll the rice balls in the bread crumbs, pressing lightly to coat evenly with the crumbs.Remove to a clean baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining rice balls.
      4. If you'd like to serve the rice balls, heat the oven to 200 degrees F or to the lowest setting. Line a baking sheet with a double thickness of paper towels. Pour the vegetable oil and olive oil into a deep skillet. Insert a deep-frying thermometer into the oil and heat the oil over medium heat to 375 degrees F.
      5. Test the temperature of the oil by dipping a rice ball in. It should give off a lively but steady sizzle. If nothing happens, the oil isn't hot enough. If the oil around the bread-crumb coating boils and sputters, the oil is too hot. Adjust accordingly.
      6. When the oil comes to temperature, carefully slip about a third of the rice balls into the oil. Fry, turning as necessary with tongs or a slotted spoon, until golden brown and crisp on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove to the paper towel-lined baking sheet, keeping them hot in the oven if you like. Fry the remaining balls. The rice balls can be served hot or at room temperature.
      Makes about 24 rice balls.

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