RICE BALLS

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3 cups uncooked rice
8 sweet sausages
4 eggs separated
1 box frozen peas
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
8 ounce whole mozzarella
3 onions, chopped
1 cup Romano/Parmesan grated cheese
Flour
Bread Crumbs
Canola oil

1. Cook 3 cups rice (I use Carolina) with 5 cups water. Put NO salt or butter in rice. After rice is cooked. Place into a large bowl to cool
2. In a large frying pan, remove casing from sausages. Break up the sausages into smaller pieces. Cook loose sausage meat until no longer pink in color. Remove sausage meat and all grease except for 2 tablespoons from frying pan. Set meat aside in a bowl.
3. In the frying pan with the 2 tablespoons of sausage grease cook 3 chopped onions until tender. When onions are cooked till tender, add onions to sausage. Remove any liquid from sausage and onions and set aside.
4. Add 1 cup of grated cheese (I use a combination of Romano and Parmesan cheese together) to cooled rice and mix well.
5. Separate 4 eggs, whites and yolks. Mix 4 yolks into rice and cheese until blended well. Add sausage and onion mixture to rice. Mix everything well with a wooden spoon.
6. Lastly, add 1 box of frozen peas, do not defrost, breaking up peas into the rice mixture and 1 can of tomato sauce. Mix everything together until with a wooden spoon.
7. Take mozzarella and make ½ inch cubes. Place on a dish and set aside.
8. Beat egg whites with a fork in a bowl until frothy. Set one dish with flour and another dish with Italian bread crumbs.
9. Heat Canola oil in deep fryer 1/ 2 way.
10. Scoop up a handful of the rice mixture and place a mozzarella cube into the center of rice before packing into a round tight baseball size ball. Gently roll the rice ball in flour and at the same time, packing the flour around the ball. At this point you can place the balls on a tray until you have half of the rice mixture rolled into balls and floured.
11. The floured rice ball then gets dipped into the frothy egg whites and immediately into Italian bread crumbs. Place on a tray until ready to fry.
12. With the heated oil ready, place 2 to 3 balls at a time into the frying basket. Submerge the rice balls into the oil and cook for about 5 minutes. Pull up basket from oil when rice balls are a golden brown color. Place on a tray lined with paper towel for blotting oil.
13. This recipe makes about 2 dozen rice balls. Serve hot with homemade spaghetti sauce.
14. ENJOY! – An appetizer, a side dish or a meal, all rolled into one rice ball!

Call me crazy, but I really enjoy having family and friends come for dinner. Sometimes I entertain large crowds and skip the china in favor of paper plates, or perhaps it’s Sunday dinner and I break out grandma’s china, silverware from my uncle, and wine glasses from my dear friend Saranne. When my table is all set, whether it be with paper plates or the fancy china, I do take pride in what I’ve prepared and in seeing such satisfaction on my guests’ faces! .

Make no bones about it, this rice ball recipe is not for the casual cook. My dear friend Vivian actually came to my house and made rice balls for the first time with me quite a while ago, and it has become a favorite. Yes, it does involve frying – honestly, have you met a fried food you didn’t like? I enlisted my husband for the frying duty. He doesn’t like me using his fryer, so I had no problem relinquishing this step in the recipe. Let me just add that I’ve altered Vivian’s recipe by adding a mozzarella cube in the center. However, this is not an original idea, since most Italian delis will put a piece of mozzarella in the center of their rice balls too. Vivian also uses 3 egg yolks instead of 4. There is a reason I’ve added an extra egg, which you will find out in this story.

Anyway, I had one of these formal dinners a few weeks ago. My menu consisted of 2 hot appetizers (black bean dip with chips and homemade chicken nuggets with honey mustard dip) served on the coffee table in the living room. Moving on to my dining room table, Rice Balls served as the first course, followed by Osso Buco (veal shanks), roasted potatoes, green beans and spinach. This was capped by desserts and fruit. The process proved to be quite an undertaking. When I created this menu, I assumed I would prepare the rice balls the day before considering the amount of cooking to be done. Well, that didn’t happen because my grandson, Jared, had a basketball game the night before my dinner. For me, anytime I can see my grandkids is a good enough reason not to stay home and cook. Needless to say, everything had to be prepared in one day. On top of the rice balls, my Osso Buco proved to be a time sucker as well. Here I am in the kitchen with pots and pans on every burner. I am now at the point of rolling the rice balls with my hands and yeah, you guessed it….the rice wouldn’t stick together and the balls were falling apart. If you could have seen me with this huge restaurant size bowl filled with sausage, onions, peas and rice. I was only a couple of hours away from my guests’ arrival and I had no back up 1st course to serve. I tried again to roll the rice into balls and struggled to get them to stick together. Time for a meltdown anyone? That was when my husband told me not to panic and to try adding another egg. Remember that one extra egg yolk I mentioned? Well, it did the trick. I couldn’t believe that in this huge bowl of rice, one little egg yolk could make that much difference. The rice balls came out great, and I received many compliments. Of course, only after my husband told everyone how he saved the rice balls with an egg yolk. Guess I’ll never live this one down!

When cooking actually becomes a labor of love, accept the praise you get in the end – you deserve it!

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5 thoughts on “RICE BALLS

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