Even though the Italians invented ‘slow-food’ they are adept fast food makers too. In Rome if you are caught short in the stomach department you can stumble into any number of take-away type places and grab a slice of pizza, a scoop of gelato or a couple of oily supplì.
Supplì are what I make when I have made too much risotto for us to finish during dinner. The next day I will roll an egg sized dollop of starchy risotto, hide a cube of mozzarella in the middle, coat it in bread crumbs and fry it. But our babysitter Sara recently elevated my level of education. Now I know that supplì are usually made with risotto (Arborio) rice mixed with a ragu. Then there are ‘aroncini’, from the south of Italy, which are risotto bianco (i.e. no ragu) with a bit of saffron. All are coated with breadcrumbs and have mozzarella in the middle.
Making supplì is very hands-on and mucky, so today I got Rosie and her cousin Louis to help me in the kitchen, moulding little handfuls of rice.
Supplì for 4 people
Arborio rice – 2 cups
Ragu (or use a tomato sauce if you want a vegetarian version) – one cup
Mozzarella – 100g
Egg – 2
Breadcrumbs – a couple of pieces of stale bread in the mixer
Lemon – rind of half a lemon
Sunflower oil – enough to give you an inch of depth for frying.
Boil the rice, yes boil, don’t make it like a traditional risotto. When the rice still has a bit of bite, drain and mix in with your ragu or tomato sauce. Also mix in the grated lemon rind. Let the mix cool down and then cover it and put in the fridge for at least 3 hours, but it would be even better if you left it overnight.
When you are ready to make the suppli heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan. Then beat a couple of eggs in a bowl, cut up the mozzarella into small cubes (get rid of any excess water from the cheese) and prepare a plate with the breadcrumbs. Then heat up your oil. Take an gobstopper-sized piece of rice and flatten it into one palm, put a cube of mozzarella in the middle and cover with an equal sized chunk of rice. Squeeze it tightly in your fist. Dip it in the eggs and then roll in the breadcrumbs.
The most difficult bit of this is making sure the suppli don’t fall apart in the pan, so use a slotted spoon to put it into the hot oil. Turn it over making sure it’s cooked all over. Serve almost immediately.