When you live with one other person and you like to cook, it’s pretty much guaranteed you will end up with leftovers. Lots of them. And when that other person you live with doesn’t love eating leftovers night after night, and you cannot bring yourself to throw away food, you’re left with a bit of a conundrum.
Many of said leftovers wind up as the next day’s lunch. But when you have, say, several pounds of leftover risotto, lunch isn’t really gonna do it, unless you want to have risotto for lunch every day, for eternity.
So what to do…? In such situations, creativity sets in: leftover spaghetti turns into crispy noodle cakes, veggies re-emerge as omelet fillings and, in the case of Sunday’s leftovers, risotto becomes suppli al telefono, Italian fried risotto balls.
I tried suppli for the fist time in Rome on a trip with my brother, and we both fell in love with them (and ate so many that my brother started sweating and could barely breath). At home, I’ve found them only at 2 Amy’s in DC, and I get them nearly every time I go (which, sadly, is only a handful of times each year).
Making suppli is pretty straightforward. You take some leftover risotto (an amount a little bigger than the size of a golf ball), stick a cube of mozzarella in the center of the ball, roll the ball in flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs and then fry the suckers.
In my case, I decided to bake them instead of frying them. Sacrilege, I know. But it was a work night, it was late, and I was tired. The thought of dealing with deep-frying and the cleanup was very, very unappealing.
Did the suppli suffer for it? Slightly, but not much. Fried suppli have a crispier exterior, and you can eat them with your fingers without creating a total mess. I think I prefer them that way. Baked suppli are a little more delicate and were best eaten with a fork, but the taste was still fantastic. After all, how bad could cheese-stuffed risotto be, really?
And whichever way you decide to make them, I assure you, no one will feel like they’re eating leftovers.
Suppli al Telefono
Mozzarella, cut into 1/2-3/4″ cubes
Leftover (refrigerated) risotto
If you are planning to fry the suppli, fill a deep pan with about 3″ of vegetable oil and, using a deep-fry thermometer, heat to 360 degrees F.
If you are baking the suppli, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
Get out 3 bowls. Place some flour in one bowl, the eggs in another and the breadcrumbs in the third. Season the breadcrumbs with a little salt and pepper. Whisk the eggs together so that the yolks are broken up.
Using a spoon, scoop out a small amount of leftover risotto, a little larger than the size of a golf ball. Split the ball open, press a piece of mozzarella inside and close up the ball, making sure the risotto is completely encasing the cheese. Roll the ball in the flour, coating all sides. Then dip the ball in the beaten eggs, let the excess drip off and roll the ball in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with remaining risotto.
To fry, carefully drop balls into the hot oil and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes, flipping as necessary to make sure all sides are cooked.
To bake, place the balls on an oiled baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden and crispy, rolling over halfway through.
Eat while hot, so that you get that nice string of cheese when you break open the suppli — it will look like a telephone line, which is where the name “suppli al telefono” comes from!
Yield: It depends how much leftover risotto you have, but each serving of risotto should give you about 6 balls.