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Cugine Corner - The Johnny Meatballs Blog

Super Bowl Riceballs

Johnny Meatballs DeCarlo (January 30, 2012)

My Big Game Tradition


 It’s been a tradition in my home for the past five years or so—the Johnny Meatball house turns into the Johnny Riceball house when Super Bowl Sunday arrives.

My Italian lineage is traced to the mainland, and “arancine” (riceballs) are mainly a Sicilian delicacy, so I never ate them growing up at home—I only had them at pizzerias or the feasts.

The first time I cooked them, I followed a somewhat non-traditional idea I learned from a paisan who runs a local deli in my area which included using diced-up pieces of fried prosciutto or ham, as opposed to the usual chopped meat. It took some time to perfect the recipe, and making these crispy balls of deliciousness are a serious, time-consuming project. You have to boil the rice, mix in all the other ingredients with the rice, then let the mixture set-up in the fridge or freezer, then you roll them, then you gotta do the whole flour-egg-breadcrumb thing ...and then you have to fry them. Worth every step!

When I first cooked these, it was during the holidays, and I found that I wasn’t able to prepare anything else. So I thought to myself, what is a good time to make them, that wasn’t a holiday but still a festive day? Bingo, Super Bowl Riceballs became my yearly February routine. I usually make around two or three dozen, they serve as a perfect living room food and there’s always some left that I give to my friends and family who didn’t come over for the big game.

Each year, I tweak the recipe and change things up a bit. For example, in honor of the Green Bay Packers playing last year, I incorporated Wisconsin extra sharp cheddar as one of the cheeses inside. Someone suggested I shape them into footballs—I may give that a shot with a few. Maybe I will color them blue somehow for Big Blue? Hmmm…we’ll see. For Super Bowl 46, here is the recipe that I will be using which is calculated for about a dozen, so just repeat the steps to make more…

First, pan-fry some prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, any similar salumi until crispy. About ¼ pound of each deli meat. Set aside, we’re going to add it into our rice mixture in a little bit.

Next, you’re gonna boil a big pot of water and cook your rice…I use a little over a pound of arborio risotto, Bellino is a good brand. Drain it and then add in the following ingredients: 3 tablespoons of butter
, a nice drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup of heavy cream, 1 cup of peas, 1 yellow onion (finely chopped), a few garlic cloves (finely chopped), 3 eggs, 1 can of diced stewed tomatoes, oregano, parsley, cracked pepper. You don’t need salt, there’s enough from the meat and cheese.

Ok so now comes the meat, followed by the cheese! Going with lots of shredded mozzarella and provolone this year. About 8 oz. of each. Some people like to add chunks of cheese into the center AFTER the mixture has been rolled so it oozes out, but I like to stir it into the mixture. Just my personal preference. I like every bite to have cheese.

Place the mixture into the freezer for at least an hour so it solidifies nicely. Then, shape into big balls (around 5 oz. in size). Carefully roll the balls in flour, egg, and Italian panko breadcrumbs. Fill a deep pot ¾ of the way through with corn oil or pomace olive oil. Allow the oil to get to a minimum 375 degrees (if you don’t have a thermometer, drop a crouton into the pot to see if it sizzles—this will ensure when it is hot enough). Drop 3 balls into the pot at a time, and allow them to cook until golden brown about 3-4 minutes (make sure they get crisp on all sides—turn them if needed with a spoon). Serve balls warm or at room temp with tomato sauce.

Enjoy your parties and goooooooooooooooo Giants! 


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More balls!

They look and sound delicious.. Your family (and especially the guests that didn't watch the game) are blessed to have you make these in bulk for everyone!

Here in Australia they're usually sold as 'Arancini' with kind of like a 'surprise' in the middle (like cheese, bolognese meat mixture or peas). I don't think I've come across the rice balls with the flavours and ingredients mixed throughout the rice.

It's not easy to find good arancine here.. Some are very greasy when reheated. I don't think I've made them myself? If I have it was a long time ago..and I probably only attempted it once. It's something I've thought about a lot. My family aren't fans you see.. so I usually buy them for myself if sold in individual portions. Plus I don't have a deep-fryer. Though I have fried some doughnuts in an electric wok!

The arancine here are usually dome-shaped with a flat bottom.. not perfectly round. I wonder why that is?

Thanks for another great blog.. Keep cooking! P.S. Megin's corn fritters looked good on Facebook.

Cheers Maria Anstis FWanderings on Twitter

P.S. I watched your Meatballs-Making video with a female tv host? My jaw dropped when I learned her mother won the competition to cook meatballs with you. I totally believe that it was all legitimate etc.. But here..they don't allow folks to enter competitions when their family members work for the same company that is hosting the competition.. There isn't allowed to be any affiliation whatsoever. So.. "Lol"..that the hosts mother was even allowed to enter! Amazing. Did anyone complain? haha...