25 August 2023

Supplì al Telefono / Arancini di Riso


Two disclaimers: 1. This is my ultimate "non-recipe" and 2. I know Arancini and Supplì are technically different, but I am going to treat them as a variation on a theme (no horse heads in my bed, please).

Basically, the process here is to assume you have leftover risotto, or to make some, fill it, roll it in bread crumbs, and fry it.

First of all, let's get the recipe out of the way, and then we will discuss it amongst ourselves.


1 batch of cold Risotto
2 Eggs Divided
1-2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup water
8 oz Low Moisture Mozzarella cut into 12 -20 pieces (You can use fresh, but you will have a lot of moisture inside the Supplì)
Oil for frying (If you want to deep fry them, 4-8 cups depending on your apparatus. If you shallow fry, then halfway up a 10" frying pan.)


  1. Crack one egg into a bowl with 1/2 cup of water and beat.
  2. Crack the second egg into the cold risotto and mix well.
  3. With damp hands, form a clump of risotto mixture around nob of mozzarella cheese.
  4. Dip in egg and roll in bread crumbs
  5. Fry in batches until golden brown and cheese is melted

These re-heat VERY WELL from frozen for 20 minutes in a 425°F oven.

There are two MAIN variations of Italian fried rice balls and LOTS of little variations.

Depending on the region, you will see these referred to as Supplì or Arancini.  

Supplì are from Rome, the name comes from the "surprise" of cheese when you bite into them.  They are smaller and often elongated.  I go for golf ball size or a little larger.  The "al Telefono" refers to the stretch of cheese, like a telephone cord, when you separate the two halves.

Arancini are from Sicily.  Their name comes from the oranges that are plentiful in the area.  The shape is larger and often filled with a beef ragu.  These can be as large as a softball.  In eastern Sicily, they are conically shaped in honor of Mount Etna.  Arancini has, supposedly, been around longer.

For the feast of Santa Lucia, in Palermo and Trapani, arancini are eaten to commemorate the arrival of a grain supply ship on Santa Lucia’s day in 1646.  On St. Lucy Day, they also, then, abstain from grain and pasta. 

There are many variations.  

  • Supplì bianco: This is easily my favorite.  Simply, it means there is no red sauce or minced meat in with the mozzarella.  We will use Risotto alla Milanese if we have it, to give them the extra flavor and a beautiful golden hue.  I recognize that this addition is more common in Arancini... but I am Roman Catholic... so Rome sweet home!
  • Supplì alla Romana: The most common method now, is to add a little red sauce and minced meat (or traditionally chicken gizzards) to the rice mixture, and stuffed with mozzarella.
  • Supplì di prosciutto e mozzarella: This one has either the rice mixture prepared with some tomato sauce or bianco with the addition of Prosciutto, ham, to the cheese center.
  • Arancini al ragù: Unlike the Supplì, the risotto is not prepared with ragu, but instead prepared with saffron and then STUFFED with ragu.  Again, these are much larger and can be a meal unto themselves.
  • Arancini ragù e piselli: Very similar to the Arancini al ragù, but with the addition of peas. (Pictured Below) 
  • Arancini al burro: Literally, the name is "with butter" but really refers to a béchamel sauce, often containing some form of ham.
  • Arancini con funghi: These contain a stuffing of mushrooms, garlic, Ragusano cheese, and parsley.
  • Arancini di riso al pistacchio: As strange as pistachios might seem in a fried rice ball, it's more of rolling the nob of cheese in ground pistachios before covering it in rice. 
  • Arancini agli spinaci:  As the name might suggest, these are filled with a mixture of spinach and cheese, sometimes with the addition of ham.
  • Arancine alle melanzane:  Eggplant, these contain eggplant.  Not my thing, but I have never had a ton of eggplant around.  If eggplant IS your thing, or you have leftover Aubergine parmigiana this might be the one for you!
There are, of course, lots of fusions and modern takes on both of these excellent rice croquettes.  I am not generally a fan of modernizing or fusionizing classical dishes, but in this case, the reason for these dishes is to use up leftovers, so go wild.  I prefer the classic, Supplì bianco, with the addition of saffron in the risotto, but this is one where little surprises are fun.  We also make these cows dairy-free with sheep's milk Romano cheese and Water Buffalo milk Mozzarella.

Arancini ragù e piselliPhoto credit: Francesco Zaia

No comments:

Post a Comment