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X Italian Rice and Polenta Dishes
Suppli (Rice Croqettes)
Originated from: Rome, Lazio, Italy
Occasion: Any time
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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1 onion, finally chopped
1 cup rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 pound Mozzarella cheese, cut into slices (about 2 inches long, 1/4 inch wide)
1/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs(Optional)

2 cups unseasoned breadcrumbs for rolling
Lard (or oil) for deep frying

Lemon wedges for garnish


Fry the onion until golden. Add the broth to the onions and then cook the rice in it (It takes anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes for the rice to cook).

Meanwhile beat the eggs.

Add salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese to the beaten eggs.

When the rice is cooked, set aside and let it cool.

Add egg mixture to the cooled rice. The resulting mixture should resemble a thick paste. If it doesn't,(Mine didn't), add a bit of breadcrumbs.

Take a handful of the mixture and squeeze it around a slice of mozzarella. The resulting rice croquette or roll should be 2 1/2 inches long and about 1/2 inch wide.

Roll the croquette in breadcrumbs.

Fry the croquettes in hot oil.

Serve hot with lemon wedges on the side.


In Southern Italy rice is often referred to as "the food of the Milanese." In the 19th century Southern Italians rarely cooked rice. In fact, they looked at it with suspicion. However, after the unification, Northerners took to Southern cooking and vice versa. Apparently, in the 1950s, "rice croquettes" were a regular fixture in Italy's capital city. At that time the "friggitori," venders of fried foods, would offer them to passersby. As far as I know "friggitori" no longer operate in Rome -- they've been replaced by fast food joints I guess.... Some food historians claim that pork fat was generally used to make fritters in the South while butter was used in the Alpine areas and olive oil was used in Tuscany and Etruria. However, according to what my Italian-born mother tells me olive oil (not pork fat) was used to fry sweet fritters (As most farmers only owned 1 pig, pork fat was in short supply, whereas olive oil was more readily available). Of course, this may have been so in Molise, but not necessarily in other parts of the South. In any case, nowadays most Italians use peanut, sunflower, canola or all-purpose vegetable oil for deep frying. Professional chefs vouch for peanut or canola oil as being the best for deep frying.... Rice rolls or croquettes can be made with or without a cheese filling in the center. Generally, good cooks can make lovely rice croquettes without adding any breadcrumbs to it, obviously adding more Parmesan would be a better alternative to adding breadcrumbs, but then the dish would end up being very expensive. Basically, it's up to the cook to decide how he or she will make any given recipe. In fact prior to World War II Italian cookbooks routinely used the words "as much as needed...." In Rome rice croquettes have very colorful names. Often rice rolls with mozzarella in the center are referred to as "suppli al telephono" because the melted cheese threads look like telephone wires. A cheese-ragu rice roll variation is known as "suppli come Dio comanda (Rice croquettes as God commands). Frankly, rice croquettes have a nice enough flavor, but if I had to make a choice between rice croquettes and potato croquettes, I'd definitely pick the ones made with potatoes. Photo: Mary Melfi.

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