So, we celebrate Columbus Day here. As I’ve mentioned, it’s not because I think he was a perfect man (there was only one of those. We get His day off school, too), or because I think that his achievement brought unmitigated blessings to mankind. Still and all, I’m glad to be on this continent, I’m glad to have a three-day weekend, and I love me some eye-talian food.
On the menu is bruschetta with various disgusting toppings that the kids won’t eat, mwa ha ha ha ha hahh (that was the sound of me contemplating eating it all myself), some kind of antipasto with those awful marinated vegetables I can’t get enough of, probably mussels or something, suppli, cannoli with cherries and shaved chocolate, and Italian ices. It’s possible that some wine might leap into the shopping cart all by itself, too.
As you can see, this is a pretty Americanized Italian feast. That’s just my way of sticking it to l’uomo. Take that, Columbus! If you’re such a hero, how come we’re not eating . . . well, I tried and tried to think of some kind of authentic Italian food which sounds gross, but I really couldn’t. Maybe something with, like, ox brains or something? The worst thing I had to eat in Rome was rabbit, and that was only kind of awful because we thought it was chicken, until we realized the legs were bending the wrong way. Oh, and there were some kind of snack food that was exactly like biodegradable packing peanuts. Those weren’t very good — or filling, which was terribly important for a student who was living on about 70 cents a day.
Anyway, here is my recipe for suppli, which is what we had for lunch most days in Rome (one semester in college). They cost 800 – 1,000 lire each, a few years before they switched –sniff sniff– to the Euro. Normally, I wouldn’t touch a recipe with a secondary recipe in it, but this one is worth it, believe me!
2 cups risotto (see recipe below)
4 oz. mozzarella in 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup bread crumbs
oil for frying
tomato sauce, if you like
Beat eggs lightly until just combined.
Add risotto and stir thoroughly, but do not mash rice.
If you want tomato sauce (this is how they were served in Rome), add it now – just enough to make it tomato-y, without thinning the mixture.
Form a ball about the size of a golf ball, make a little dent in it, stick a cube of cheese in the dent, and then add on another golf-ball sized lump of the rice mixture. Form it all into a smooth egg shape. Roll the whole thing in bread crumbs. Do this until you use up all the rice mixture.
Refrigerate the balls for 30 minutes if you can, to make them easier to fry.
Heat oil to 375 degrees; preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Fry 4 or 5 balls at a time, about 5 minutes until they are golden brown. The cheese inside should be melted.
Drain on paper towels, and keep the suppli warm in the oven while you are frying the rest — but these should be served pretty soon.
7 cups chicken stock
4 Tbs butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2 cups raw white rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 Tbs soft butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Set chicken stock to simmer in a pot.
In a large pan, melt 4 Tbs. butter – cook onions until soft but not brown.
Stir in raw rice and cook 1-2 minutes until the grains glisten and are opaque.
Pour in the wine and boil until wine is absorbed.
Add 2 cups of simmering stock and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the liquid is almost absorbed.
Add 2 more cups of stock and cook until absorbed.
If the rice is not tender by this point, keep adding 1/2 cups of stock until it is tender.
Gently stir in the 4 Tbs soft butter and the grated cheese with a fork.