From the Italian snack hall of fame, rice balls are traditionally made
with leftover risotto. I find that there’s never any leftover risotto, so I
make a dedicated batch the day before. The risotto rests in the refrigerator
overnight, making it easy to handle when forming the rice balls.
Make sure your risotto is well seasoned with salt and pepper, as that
will be the foundation of seasoning for the rice balls.
1⁄2 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups Basic Risotto (recipe follows), chilled
1⁄2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
4 ounces Italian fontina, cut into cubes
6 cups vegetable oil
Coarse sea salt
- Combine the polenta and the flour in a shallow bowl.
Lightly beat the eggs in another shallow bowl. Set both
- Combine the chilled risotto and the parsley in a bowl,
stirring them together with a fork. Using your hands,
form the risotto mixture into golf-ball-size balls. Poke a
hole into each rice ball and insert a cube of fontina into it,
then close the rice around the cheese. As you form them,
set the rice balls on a tray lined with parchment.
- Pour the oil into a Dutch oven (the oil should be about
3 inches deep), and heat it over a medium-high flame to
- While the oil is heating, dip each rice ball first into the beaten egg, and then into the polenta mixture. Return them to the parchment-lined tray.
- When the oil has reached 375°F, by a slotted spoon lower a 3 or 4 rice balls to the pot. Cook, turning them occasionally, until they are golden brown on all sides, 4 minutes. by the slotted spoon transfer them to a clean paper-towel-lined tray to cool and drain. season the rice balls with crunchy sea salt.
Repeat with the remaining rice balls, maintaining
the oil temperature at 375°F.