Recipe courtesy of Vince Bommarito

Rice Balls

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 55 min
  • Prep: 35 min
  • Inactive: 2 hr
  • Cook: 20 min
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2 tablespoons butter

1 cup Italian rice

Pinch saffron, optional

1/3 cup dry white wine

Salt and pepper

1 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish

5 large eggs

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 pound ground lean beef

1/2 pound ground pork

5 large fresh sweet basil leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 ounces tomato sauce

2 1/2 cups boiling water, for rice, plus 1/2 cup water, for sauce

1 teaspoons sugar

1/4 cup frozen or fresh peas

1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

2 cups vegetable oil


  1. Melt butter in a large pot, pour in uncooked rice and cook for 2 minutes. Add saffron, if using and pour in wine until wine evaporates. Begin stirring in boiling water until rice is tender. Cook rice uncovered. Add salt and pepper, to taste. When rice is cooked take off heat, mix in cheese and 2 eggs. Place in refrigerator, covered, for 2 hours or overnight. Rice must be chilled.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium heat add oil, saute onions and the chopped garlic for 2 minutes, add in the beef and pork, and brown. Remove excess grease. Add in basil, tomato paste, tomato sauce , water, and sugar until it all becomes thick in texture. Add peas while still warm, take off heat and set aside. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Take 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture, place in hand and form a small cup.
  4. Place 1/2 teaspoon of the meat mixture to center of the rice cup, add 1 teaspoon of the rice over the meat mixture and roll in a ball. Roll the rice ball in the remaining eggs and then roll that into the bread crumbs. Heat vegetable oil to 360 degrees F. Deep-fry rice balls until browned, place on a paper towel lined plate or dish.
  5. Before serving garnish with cheese and/or the extra sauce.