Rice Balls

When Robin was growing up, it was a special treat when Gramps would bring a rice ball home with the cheese pizza from the local pizzeria. The crispy outside and the cheesy meat-filled inside were delectable. We are inspired by a new cookbook to try to make them at home. We replace the chopped meat from Robin’s memories with proscuitto (and we make some vegetarian for our guests). We also make them smaller than typical—thanks to the small hands of our daughter who is helping in the kitchen!

Servings and Times

Serves: 8
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time: 2 hours
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

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We start by cooking the rice—about 2 hours before we want to fry the rice balls. In a small pot, we combine the rice and water, add a pinch of salt, and put the pot, uncovered, over high heat. When the water starts boiling, we turn the heat down to medium. After about 6 minutes, small craters appear on the surface of the rice as the water that had been above the rice evaporates. We cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. We pull the pot off heat and the rice is left to rest for another 10 minutes before dumping the rice into a large bowl. At this point, we let the rice cool in the bowl for an hour or so.

To the cooled rice, we add the eggs, mozzarella, parmesan, fresh parsley, and a good amount of black pepper. We stir well to combine. Half of the mixture will be vegetarian, so we make these first.

In a ramekin, we microwave the peas with a tablespoon of the sauce for about 30 seconds (the rest of the sauce we refrigerate until right before serving time). We want them defrosted. We set the ramekin next to the large bowl with the rice, and we get two large plates ready, one with the bread crumbs on it, and one to place the balls.

We take a small amount of the rice mixture in our clean hands, which will make a ball about an inch to an inch and a half in size. We form an indentation in the center and add a little of the peas and tomato sauce (only about 3 peas!). We seal up the ball, roll in the crumbs, and place on the plate. We continue until we have used about half of the rice mixture.

We wash our hands again and then refrigerate the vegetarian rice balls—to set for about 30 minutes.

With kitchen scissors, we add the proscuitto to the rice mixture and stir well. We also start heating 2 inches of the canola oil in our Dutch oven for frying. We place our deep-fat thermometer in the pot and watch as the oil climbs to 375° F.

Meanwhile, we assemble the proscuitto filled rice balls—adding peas to the center of these as well. We refrigerate these rice balls and wash up again.

When the oil is hot enough, we start by frying the vegetarian rice balls. We carefully put them into the oil, not crowding them, and fry until nicely browned. We drain them with our spider strainer onto a paper-towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt. (We could have transferred the cooked rice balls to a low oven for a few minutes but we just serve them right away!)

We allow the oil to climb back to 375° F before frying the rice balls with proscuitto. We reheat the tomato sauce in the microwave and serve with the rice balls.

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