Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Suppli al telefono (Rice Balls)

I cannot remember when I first made these and whether or not it was because I had left over risotto or whether I was craving the delicious rice balls that I used to get from Iku wholefoods in Glebe. Anyway, they have been part of the repetoire for a while, getting various incarnations from main meal to drinks nibbly.

This time I decided to do some research before hand and found out that there are many kinds of rice ball. Arancini - which are fried or, less commonly, baked rice balls, having a diameter of 8-10 cm, filled usually with rag├╣ (meat sauce), but also with tomato sauce, mozzarella, peas, and other things. On the outside they are simply breadcrumbs; and Suppli - which can be seen as a larger version of arancini, but with tomato sauce, or as a kind of croquette.
I thought I would try out a more authentic recipe for my recent rice ball craving. This one (from worked out tasting very yummy indeed - making an excellent pre poker dinner and post poker eve snack the next day!


3/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups beef stock

1 450g can peeled Italian tomatoes and their juices, crushed by hand

3 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon butter

1 2/3 cups Vialone, Avorio or Arborio rice

2 eggs

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 onion, chopped

50g prosciutto, finely chopped

200g ground beef

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

150g mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch dice

3/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

1 litre extra virgin olive oil - or other- for frying


Soak the mushrooms in 1/2 cup water for 2 hours. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the mushroom water, and chop finely. Dissolve the tomato paste in the mushroom water and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the beef stock, crushed tomatoes and 3 tablespoons butter, mix well and bring to a boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the rice is done, stirring throughout. Turn the rice mixture out into a serving bowl and gradually stir in the eggs and Parmigiano. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a frypan, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter over low heat. Add the onion and prosciutto and cook over high heat 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until well browned. Add the mushrooms, mushroom water-tomato paste mixture, and salt and pepper to taste, and keep at a simmer.

Make egg-shaped portions of the rice, and make an indentation in the center of each one. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of each ball of rice, along with a few cubes of the cheese. Add some more rice to cover this and roll into a ball Roll each ball in the bread crumbs so that it is completely coated.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over high heat until it is almost smoking. In batches, fry the balls in the hot oil until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper towels while seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with a nice homemade tomato sauce.

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