MAKES ABOUT 24 CROQUETTES; SERVES 8 AS AN APPETIZER
Cheesy risotto is molded around a mozzarella center and deep-fried to make these balls called supplì or arancini (little oranges) in Italy. For this simple risotto, you needn’t stand over the pot, stirring and stirring. If you make the risotto the night before, you can chill it in the refrigerator and it will be much easier to form into balls.
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 cup short-grain rice, preferably Arborio
3 cups homemade chicken stock, canned chicken broth, or water, or more as needed
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
¾ cup fine dry bread crumbs
¼ pound mozzarella cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
Peanut oil for deep-frying
1. Several hours or the night before you plan to serve the croquettes, make the risotto: Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it has softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Then stir in the rice, the stock, and the salt (if you are using canned broth, taste it for saltiness and adjust accordingly). Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 10 to 20 minutes. Lift the lid and stir the rice occasionally. If the rice is not tender but the liquid has been absorbed, add more liquid and cook, stirring constantly, until it softens.
2. Remove the rice from the heat and stir in the Parmesan. Then transfer the mixture to a bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
3. Lightly beat the eggs and stir them into the cooled rice. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator to chill, at least 2 hours.
4. About 1 hour before serving time, remove the risotto from the refrigerator. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment. Place the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. Wet your hands with water, scoop up a tablespoon of risotto, and pat it into one of your palms. Place a cube of mozzarella on the risotto. Then scoop up another tablespoon of risotto and place it over the cheese. Press the mixture into a ball, making sure that the mozzarella is covered. Roll the ball in the bread crumbs, coating it well. Place the croquette on the paper-lined baking sheet, and repeat the process with the rest of the risotto and cheese. Place the croquettes in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
5. When you are ready to fry the croquettes, pour oil to a depth of 3 inches in a stockpot or Dutch oven, place it over medium-high heat, and heat it to 375°F. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and set it near the stove.
6. When the oil reaches 375°F, fry the croquettes, four or five at a time, until golden brown all over, about 5 minutes. Maintain the oil temperature between 365° and 375°F. Transfer the croquettes to the wire rack to drain, and continue frying the rest of the croquettes. Serve warm.
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