I Don’t Deep Fry
August 1, 2008
The weekend before the Exam That Shall Not be Mentioned Again, I maybekindasorta kicked Kevin out. He’d been looking for a good time to take a trip to D.C., where we lived for two years after college, to visit our friend Seth and I more-than-gently suggested that weekend. But before you start to feel sorry for him (he’s a very sympathetic figure, that one … especially when his wife is kicking him not just out of the house but out of the state too), you should know two things. First, I would’ve made awful company that weekend (for a quick mental image: there was a lot of pacing around, reading flashcards out loud; not exactly an ideal Saturday). Second, I just ended up missing him all weekend and longing for D.C. too.
Which brings me to today’s recipe. You see, while Kevin was in away, I couldn’t stop envisioning D.C.’s sultry summer air, the blocks we’d walked hundreds of times, the always-present political conversations, the pleasant hum of activity, and, of course, the restaurants we’d grown to love. One of those was 2 Amys, an excellent pizzeria that served frisbee-sized Neopolitan pies, wine in small tumblers and also an appetizer called suppli al telefono (which are also called arancini or, even better, mozzarella-stuffed risotto balls).
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
While Kevin and I have something of a knack for seeking out delicious pizza wherever we are, we haven’t been able to find suppli on any Chicago menu. So, after one too many conversations recalling 2 Amys’ piping hot, irresistable fritters, I decided to try making them. The risotto was easy enough. And shaping food into balls happens to be a kitchen task I find quite satisfying. And I figured that tucking a morsel of mozzarella into the balls couldn’t be all that tough. The only problem was: I don’t deep fry. I am deterred by the danger, the stench and the clean-up (what does one do with a pot full of spent oil?). And while these suppli are traditionally fried, I had a feeling we could get away with a baked version.
Turns out, I was right. As with all baked versions of fried-stuffs, they’re admittedly not quite the same. But they are still very good, with a crunchy, parmigiano-flecked exterior that enveloped first a pillowy layer of risotto and then, then, an oozy epicenter of mozzarella. If I can’t be back in D.C. at least I can have these suppli.
Baked Suppli al Telefono
Prepared Risotto (made from a 1/2 cup of dried arborio)
2 ounces mozzarella, torn or cut into pea-sized pieces
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmigano
salt and pepper
1 warm cup of your favorite marinara (I like a simple puree of fire-roasted tomatoes)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a shallow bowl, combine 3/4 cup of bread crumbs, the parmesan, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Combine the risotto, egg and the remaining bread crumbs in a large bowl. Using a small ice cream scoop or your hands (if using your hands, it helps to keep them wet), shape the risotto into roughly tablespoon-sized balls. Cradling a shaped ball in your palm (to keep the shape intact), use your thumb to tuck a piece of mozzarella into the center of the ball and reshape the ball around the cheese, so the cheese is fully enveloped. Place each formed and stuffed ball onto a plate. When all the risotto has been used, place the plate in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes.
Once the balls have chilled and firmed up, roll each one in the bread crumb mixture and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, turning halfway, until the suppli are golden brown. Serve with the marinara and toothpicks for dunking.