Christmas Traditions: Polpette Riso
Growing up I would look forward to my zia’s Polpette Riso. In our family it is a popular pre-dinner snack/finger food that is served all year round on special occasions. It was always the highlight for me on Christmas Eve when we do not eat meat (because I don’t eat fish).
Polpetta (Polpette – plural) is usually heard when referring to meatballs. But, in Italia, polpetta is more about the shape (round, like a meatball) and isn’t always made out of meat. My nonna in Italia and my zia in Toronto both make the best polpette riso and I’ve been lucky enough to have them on many occasions.
While I was home caring for my father during his illness, I began learning (and re-learning) traditional Italian dishes that I loved while growing up. My hope was to someday perfect those dishes and teach the timeless recipes to the next generation in our family. Polpette Riso is without a doubt one of these very special family recipes. My father had never made them before, so, we had to go straight to the source. He phoned up my nonna in Italy and got her personal recipe. Ironically, the first time I attempted to make them my zia was over, so she helped me through the process. They didn’t turn out too bad either, and both my zio and father approved! *big cheesy proud smile*
So, with the holidays just around the corner, I have been enlisted to make these tasty treats. Here is our family recipe for Polpette Riso. I make it as often as I can in the hopes of making it just as good as my nonna and zia! 🙂
Just like many family recipes, there are no set measurements; a lot of it is intuition and experience. The more you make them the easier it is to know how much of this or that you need to add or subtract.
WARNING – this is not a fat-free, low fat or anything like that kind of recipe…its a special occasion treat!
Nonna’s Polpette Riso
What you need:
Rice – 1 litre (Italian Style – not instant, arborio)
Eggs (appox 6-8)
Parmesan Cheese (around 2 cups, may need more depending on consistency of mixture)
What to do:
Add 1 litre of uncooked rice to boiling water.
Cook the rice until it is tender.
Once rice is cooked be sure to drain any remaining water.
Spread rice out onto a cookie sheet (or other flat surface) and let it cool. (For best results, cook rice the day before and let it sit in the fridge over night).
Once rice is cold combine rice, 6-7 eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt (as desired) and chopped parsley. There are no set measurements for this – you have to add ingredients as needed.
With your hand begin combining the ingredients together. Mix well! The mixture should not be too wet or too dry…it must be dry enough to form. If the mixture is too wet it will start to break apart when you begin to cook them. If you find your mixture to be too wet you can add breadcrumbs or more Parmesan cheese to dry it up.
Once mixture is combined it is ready to roll into balls. Lightly wet your hands with cold or lukewarm water. Roll into balls (as though you were making a meatball) then work into a longer oval shape (like a finger). You can make them as big or small as you like.
Heat oil in a deep frying pan. You need to have enough oil to completely cover the rice polpette. The oil must get very hot before you put the fingers in. You can test the temperature with one polpetta…if the oil sizzles and boils around the polpetta then it is hot enough.
Place the polpette in the pan of hot oil and let it cook…when they start to get golden brown you can turn them over. Turn them over a couple times in order to get a nice color all around.
When they are ready to come out of the oil, place them in a bowl or large pasta strainer lined with paper towels so that the oil can drain. Note: if you are using a strainer make sure to place it on top of a plate as the oil may seep through and spill.
Polpette Riso can be eaten warm or cold. They taste awesome either way.