I have been getting this tasty treat for 5 years now. Before discovering this delicacy, I had never even heard of a rice ball, or better yet that something having rice in it could be an Italian specialty, but this delicious concoction screams Italian once you analyze the ingredients. It contains little bits of prosciutto and peas, and is coated with breadcrumbs and fried and eaten swimming in sauce. I suggest vodka sauce as the sauce to eat with this spongy treat. The creamy vodka sauce gets soaked up by the rice and you get to enjoy the intense flavor in every bite.
One year, a friend of mine had second thoughts on getting a rice ball after we had already visited my Il Piccolo Bufalo's stand, and decided to get one from another vendor. Not only did that vendor not have vodka sauce for the rice ball, but it was very dry and definitely lacked the flavor of the one that I had! I felt bad for her, but did not share mine :)
I am considering testing out making my very own rice balls at home. I found a very interesting recipe online at FoodNetwork.com for all you cookers out there to try! Perhaps you can outdo Il Piccolo Bufalo's rice ball that I love!
Here is the recipe for you Martha Stewart types:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup Italian rice
- Pinch saffron, optional
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
- 5 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 pound ground lean beef
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 5 large fresh sweet basil leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 ounces tomato sauce
- 2 1/2 cups boiling water, for rice, plus 1/2 cup water, for sauce
- 1 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 cup frozen or fresh peas
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 cups vegetable oil
Melt butter in a large pot, pour in uncooked rice and cook for 2 minutes. Add saffron, if using and pour in wine until wine evaporates. Begin stirring in boiling water until rice is tender. Cook rice uncovered. Add salt and pepper, to taste. When rice is cooked take off heat, mix in cheese and 2 eggs. Place in refrigerator, covered, for 2 hours or overnight. Rice must be chilled.
In a large frying pan over medium heat add oil, saute onions and the chopped garlic for 2 minutes, add in the beef and pork, and brown. Remove excess grease. Add in basil, tomato paste, tomato sauce , water, and sugar until it all becomes thick in texture. Add peas while still warm, take off heat and set aside. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Take 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture, place in hand and form a small cup.
Place 1/2 teaspoon of the meat mixture to center of the rice cup, add 1 teaspoon of the rice over the meat mixture and roll in a ball. Roll the rice ball in the remaining eggs and then roll that into the bread crumbs. Heat vegetable oil to 360 degrees F. Deep-fry rice balls until browned, place on a paper towel lined plate or dish.
Before serving garnish with cheese and/or the extra sauce.
Enjoy! HAPPY EATING AND COOKING! :)