Mozzarella has a neutral taste and is one of the best cheeses for melting. It’s ideal for these rice balls as the filling has a strong flavour.
MAKES 10-12 BALLS Preparation: 20 min Cooling: 1-2 hours or overnight Cooking: 50 min
30ml (2T) olive oil 1 onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed 250ml (1c) Arborio rice 2,5ml (½t) dried thyme 125ml (½c) white wine 625ml (2½c) vegetable or chicken stock 60ml (¼c) grated hard Italian cheese salt and freshly ground pepper 150g mozzarella cheese, cubed 125ml (½c) flour 2 eggs, whisked 375ml (1½c) breadcrumbs oil for deep-frying
TO SERVE lemon wedges fresh herbs sea salt flakes
1 Heat the oil in a deep pan and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add the rice and stir-fry for 5 minutes.
2 Add the thyme and wine and stir-fry until the liquid is absorbed. Add the stock a little at a time, stirring continuously – wait until the stock is absorbed by the rice before adding more.
3 Stir-fry until the rice is just cooked but still firm. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the rice into a shallow dish and cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours or until chilled and sticky.
4 Shape the rice into walnut-size balls. Press a cheese cube into the middle of each ball, making sure the rice completely covers the cheese.
5 Roll the balls in the flour and dip into the whisked egg then the breadcrumbs. Dip the balls into the egg again and then into the breadcrumbs.
6 Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a deep saucepan and fry the balls in batches until golden and crispy. Reduce the heat if the balls brown too quickly – remember they have to cook long enough for the cheese to melt).
7 To serve Serve hot with lemon wedges, fresh herbs and sea salt flakes.