One of Italy’s best street foods, supplì are often over shadowed by their Sicilian brothers, arancini, which are similar, but usually made with peas, giving supplì the prize in my heart. I am also biased because I have lived in Rome longer than I have lived in any other city in Italy, and after my hometown of Atlanta, more than any other city in the States as well. I’ve complained in past posts that Roman food could get old for its repetitiveness, supplì could never get old. They are the perfect hand food, great for an afternoon snack or as an antipasto.
I would have never dreamed of making them while living in Rome when I could walk a few blocks from my apartment to Poulet Roti, a little rosticceria close to my apartment that made supplì that were out of this world. My husband’s birthday was yesterday and I wanted to make him a special meal to celebrate. I have to say he was dubious about supplì when we first moved to Rome, he had spent a lot of time in Palermo for work and arancini were number one in his heart, but after having one or two of these little croquettes he was sold and they became hard for him to resist.
I ran across a recipe for supplì in the New York Times a few months ago and needed a good excuse to try it. My risotto croquettes came out really well, so I had no excuses to not try to make supplì. The recipe was ok, there are a number of things that I would adjust, to make them more like the supplì that you can find in Rome. Lighter on the meat and heavier on the tomato. I also wish I could find better Arborio or Carnaroli rice in this country, they import Italian pasta brands, can’t they import rice?
Supplì adapted from The New York Times
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
- 3-5 ounces ground beef (grass fed, or at least ground in front of you)
- 1½ cups crushed peeled tomatoes, purée will work as well
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 3 cups vegetable broth (canned or homemade)
- 10 ounces (about 1 1/3 cup) carnaroli or other arborio rice
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Flour, for dredging
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup fine, dry bread crumbs
- 3 ounces mozzarella, cut into 12 to 14 cubes
- Canola oil, for frying.
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and add onion. Sauté until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add beef and sauté until browned. Add tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add 2 cups vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add rice and simmer, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick and rice has no crunch but is still firm, about 15 minutes. If pan becomes dry during cooking, add more broth as needed. Remove from heat and stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano. Spread in a flat container or pan and allow to cool. Rice may be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
Once rice has cooled, roughly divide it into 12 to 14 mounds. Line up the flour, eggs and bread crumbs in three shallow bowls. (My mother-in-law suggested mixing the flour with water to create a humid seal, we tried this and is brought a creamier center and a crispier shell). Scoop about two-thirds of a mound of rice and hold it in your hand. Press a cube of mozzarella into middle, top with remaining third of mound, and shape rice around it to form a ball, making sure mozzarella is securely closed in center. Roll rice ball in flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs; set aside.
Fill a large skillet with about 1 inch of oil. Place over medium heat and allow to become very hot but not smoking. Add all the rice balls and allow to sit until golden brown underneath, 1 to 2 minutes, then turn to brown other sides. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
Yield: 12 to 14 rice balls (about 4 servings).
The picture below is a supplì from Poulet Roti in Rome, taken on our last day living there. Supplì we miss you terribly.