suppli di riso
I’ve always had a rocky relationship with leftovers. I grew up in a fairly obsessive family for whom garbage night was a major production that naturally involved cleaning out the fridge. My father was particularly fond of this weekly ritual; he’d bustle from refrigerator to microwave to table, peering into smelly tupperware containers, shaking nearly empty bottles and saying things like, “It’s garbage night. Who wants to finish this ketchup?”
Needless to say, nobody really wanted to finish that ketchup. Nor could any of us be convinced that three spears of mushy canned asparagus, a crusty corner of rubbery lasagna, and half a pork chop of questionable age constituted a decent meal. Yet such were the offerings on a typical leftover night; we ate what there was to eat and then admired the clear, white space we’d created inside our refrigerator.
But despite the satisfaction a newly-organized refrigerator brings, it’s taken many years and several revelations for me to warm up to the idea of eating leftovers on purpose. Revelation number one: the microwave is capable of ruining just about anything, so it’s much better to repurpose leftovers than to reheat them. Once I’d embraced that concept I made all sorts of wonderful discoveries, not the least of which was suppli di riso, which is really just a fancy Italian way to say, “rice balls.”
Of course, if you live with a man whose sense of humor is about as sophisticated as an eighth-grader’s, you’ve probably learned not to serve balls for dinner. It’s a good policy, especially considering that patties are easier to deal with than balls. Okay fine, let’s all take a moment to snicker. There. Now in the case of suppli di riso, which is basically breaded, pan-fried risotto, patties have two advantages over, um, spheres. They’re easier to form around a bit of cheese and easier to cook since all you have to do is flip them. Either way, they end up being delicious — crisp on the outside with all the cheesy creamy goodness of risotto on the inside. In fact, we like them so much that I routinely make extra risotto just so we have some left over. And that’s saying a lot.
Suppli di Riso or Risotto Cakes
3 c. leftover risotto, cold or at room temperature
2 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into ¼” slices and quartered
½-¾ c. breadcrumbs
3 T. olive oil
1) Form the risotto into six patties, placing a slice of cheese in the center of each. I make a thin patty, top it with cheese and another thin patty, then round the whole thing out by cupping my hands around it.
2) Beat the egg in a shallow bowl and pour the breadcrumbs into another. Dip each patty in egg, then breadcrumbs to coat.
3) Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the risotto cakes for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels before serving. They’re nice with a fresh green salad.