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Sunday, September 12, 2010

AKA: Rice Balls: Recipe

Making rice balls is a fine art. My mother-in-law makes them at the holidays and they're terrific with peas and ground meat. I wanted to give them a try and I always love mini versions of things so I thought these pop-ems would be a good addition to a party menu.  Turns out they were hit!  Of course, the key to risotto is the consistent stirring. So if my recipe doesn't make it clear: STIR!

Pancetta-Rosemary Risotto Balls
makes about 100

4 oz. pancetta, cut into tiny cubes
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter + 1 Tbsp.
1 tsp. Olive Oil
1 onion, minced
16 oz. Aborrio Risotto
8 oz. chicken stock
(2) 14 1/2 oz. cans chicken broth
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Fresh Rosemary
6 oz. Fontina Cheese, shredded
1/2 cup vermouth
1/4 cup warm water
2-3 cups Italian Breadcrumbs

Vegetable Oil for frying

In a large heavy pot (I use my 6 qt. Le Cruset), heat 5 Tbsp. butter and olive oil together until it's foamy.  Add the onion and saute over medium heat until onions lose their shape and begin to soften.  Add the Pancetta and saute another 6 minutes. Stir several times to avoid browning. Add 1 Tbsp. rosemary and saute another minute.

Meanwhile, pour stock and broth into a saucepan and warm over medium-low heat, next to the risotto pot.

Raise the heat on the risotto to high, stirring contents often.  Add the rice to the pot and stir several times to coat the rice with the butter-pancetta; about 1 minute. Just as the rice begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, add 2 ladles of broth to the pot. Stir well, several times, and then lower the heat to medium and let the liquid simmer. Do not allow the rice to stick to the pot - stir more often than you think is necessary.  As the rice expands with moisture and gets softer and larger, the need to stir will lessen - some. But for now, be sure to stir rigorously. Continue to add ladles of liquid and stir until the rice expands and the mixture becomes thick and harder to stir.

After about 30 minutes, add in the vermouth and stir well. Next add in the warm water and stir well. The entire cooking time should be about 1 hour. Near the end, as the rice is almost done (you'll need to taste it to know), add in the remaining tsp. of rosemary and the remaining tablespoon of butter.  Next add in the shredded cheese and stir like mad! The cheese would be the final step - once you add in the cheese, you should remove the risotto from the heat and stir many times to ensure the cheese is evenly distributed and the begins to cool.

Place one half of the mixture into a large bowl and stir each half of the risotto occasionally to speed the cooling process.  Allow the mixture to cool completely - about 3-5 hours.

Once completely cooled and congealed, roll about 1 1/2 inch balls and place onto a large baking sheet. Refrigerate the balls for about 3 hours.  Fill a very deep fryer (I used my wok) with about 6" of cooking oil and heat over high heat until extremely hot - about 5 minutes before ready.  Roll each ball in breadcrumb and working in batches, carefully drop about 6 balls into the fryer at one time. Using a slotted spoon, remove balls after about 30-60 seconds and drain on paper bags. Repeat until all balls are complete.

I made these 1 day before needed and reheated in an oven set at 350 for 15 minutes.

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