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Friday, February 1, 2013

Italian Rice Croquettes

It’s common knowledge that anything fried can’t be anything but delicious.

As much as Potato Croquettes rank high on the list of fried foods these Rice Croquettes may be their fiercest competition.

I’ve experimented with several recipes having little to no success but the challenge to find an easy and satisfying recipe has never been far from my mind.

When least expected the one cup of leftover cold rice sitting in the fridge and three different recipes on which I had been contemplating turned out to be a challenge ready to be taken on.  If things had not worked out I wasn't anticipating any waste as plan B was already in place. Frittata anyone?  The recipe is for another post.

Cold rice is the number one enemy when making rice balls and I don't think parboiled long grain rice was the best choice for making these either. Two counts against me didn't make for a promising endeavor but I somehow felt it was worth a try.

In the recipe for Potato Croquettes a piece of mozzarella is usually placed in the middle of the mixture before frying and this is also common practice when making rice balls.

I experimented by gently warming up the cold rice and adding an egg, parsley, some cheese and small cubes of mozzarella right into the rice mixture instead of saving it for the middle. Part of the mozzarella melted which helped hold things together long enough to give them the bread crumb coating. Once fried, the remaining pieces created those enjoyable strands of cheese that are loved by all.

I used Arborio rice when making them for this post since it's also the preferred variety for risotto. The higher starch content makes it a little stickier and easier to work with.  I have concluded that the parboiled rice worked just as well as the Arborio in this recipe and will most likely be my choice when making them again.  I preferred the texture and taste of parboiled to the Arborio.

I am grateful for those who originate recipes and even more grateful to those who find it in their heart to share them.  However, the opportunity to see an even greater potential in an existing recipe should never pass you by.  This recipe includes ingredients but mostly methods of preparation from three different recipes plus a few small changes of my own.

A big thanks to all who unknowingly contributed to this delicious new recipe.  Enjoy!

Italian Rice Croquettes
2 eggs
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh Italian parsley
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter (soft)
3/4  cup cubed mozzarella (1/2 inch dice)
1 ½ cups fine dried bread crumbs
Oil for frying

1 liter water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked white rice
  1. In a medium bowl, wisk together eggs, cheese, parsley, pepper, butter and 1 teaspoon salt.  Cover and refrigerate.
  2. In a large saucepan bring water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil.  Stir in rice and reduce heat to low.
  3. Cook rice until water is almost all absorbed, stirring frequently.
  4. Remove from heat and slowly pour in egg mixture stirring rapidly to prevent egg from scrambling.
  5. Allow rice mixture to cool down for about 1/2 hour.
  6. Stir in cubed mozzarella until partially melts.
  7. Scoop out enough mixture with a spoon or small ice cream scoop to make a 2 inch ball.  Don’t worry about making it perfectly round at this point. (Form and bread one Croquette at a time.)
  8. Place the ball of rice into the bread crumbs, roll around until covered with bread crumbs then pick up and form into a ball. (It’s so much easier to form it into a ball at this stage.)
  9. Place on a wax paper lined pan and refrigerate at least 1 ½ hours. This refrigeration time is very important otherwise croquettes may fall apart when fried.
  10. In a small, deep skillet fry 4 to 5 at a time turning as need to ensure even browning.  (Make sure you have enough oil to almost cover the croquette.)
  11. Drain on paper towel and serve warm. 
  12. Makes approximately 24.





Notes, Tips and Suggestions
  • If the croquettes flatten a little during refrigeration, before frying give them a light roll with hands to reshape into a ball.
  • Fry 3 to 4 at a time to maintain proper oil temperature for quick browning and minimal oil absorption.
  • One of the recipes added the step of dipping the rice balls into beaten egg before coating them with bread crumbs.  I decided to skip this step according to another recipe and roll them directly into the bread crumbs with excellent results. 
  • The 1 1/2 hour resting in the fridge is the minimal time required to set.  I made them early in the morning then fried them just before dinner.  I may even try making them the night before next time.
  • Recipe can be easily cut in half to make 12 instead of 24. 

Likeable Spiders

I find myself reaching for the spiders in my kitchen regularly but not those of the eight legged variety! (The very thought gives me the shivers.)   These tools are also known as strainers or skimmers used to retrieve food from pots of hot water or oil and are called spiders since the basket resembles a spider's web.
The original one I bought had a wooden handle and I finally put it to rest when I couldn't get the handle clean to my satisfaction.  I later purchased different sized spiders with metal and plastic handles which are so much easier to clean.
The larger ones do a great job of straining vegetables and pasta eliminating the need of a colander while the "itsy-bitsy" spider size is perfect for scooping out Croquettes from the hot oil.

Wonderful tool...how did I ever manage without one!


  1. MMM, these look good. Question: I would have thought that you'd put the mozzarella piece whole in the centre of the rice ball (or roll the rice around the mozzarella) - do you think this would work or its better the way you've outlined to ensure maximum cheesiness (but good cheesiness!)

    Funny you profiled your favourite "spiders" (an oxymoron if you ask me). I recently used the one you purchased me to delicately scoop ravioli out of hot water and laid them to rest on a paper towel. These ravioli would have never made it if they were thrown into the colander.

    Now that it's proved its worth, it has made its coveted spot on my hanging utensil line on my kitchen wall. Now that's huge progress for someone who can't even say the word spider without feeling like something is crawling up her arm!

    1. elizabeth aka anonymousFebruary 3, 2013 at 3:56 PM

      Oops, this "anonymous" is your daughter. Slip of the finger!

    2. Since the first time I made these I was using left over rice I thought to have the mozzarella act as a binding agent helping the rice stay together, this worked so well that I am "sticking" to the idea.
      I suppose a portion of mozzarella can be used for this purpose and still have a piece in the middle for that extra cheesy,stringy goodness.
      ...like I wouldn't have known the anonymous was you...

  2. I can't tell you how excited I was to see the recipe for these rice balls (croquettes). Just last week I had an urge to make them but wasn't sure exactly how to go about it.
    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I am looking forward to frying up a batch this week.

    1. Hello Elizabeth,
      Interesting that we were both contemplating Croquettes last week.
      I'm glad that I came up with a recipe that seems to work well and hope your Croquette making is a great success!!

  3. I made these for dinner Tuesday night. I was instantly asked if they could be taken for lunch the next day. So... A HUGE SUCCESS !!
    Even the ones I made for myself with gluten free breadcrumbs were great. The crumbs are coarser but that just made for a crunchier exterior. So delicious!!
    Thank you for posting this recipe. I'm sure I'll be making them again and again.