Rice Balls

Rice balls are a delicious appetizer no matter the occasion.  Be sure you have plenty of Classic Red on hand for dipping.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion diced small
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground veal
1 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups cooked and cooled arborio rice
6 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs 
1 cup italian style breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cup warmed Classic Red
Basil for garnish



Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic and onions until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the meat and cook until browned, breaking up large pieces as it cooks. Strain off excess fat from the skillet. Add parsley and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep in mind that rice and cheese contain salt so be careful not to over salt the meat mixture. Let the meat mixture cool a bit.  Combine the rice with the cheeses but be careful not to mash the rice. Add the rice mixture to the meat mixture and stir gently to combine, mix in peas. Add additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a small to medium ice cream scoop (number 10) to shape the balls so they are a consistent size, and then hand roll the balls as tightly as you can.

Pour enough canola oil into a deep skillet or Dutch oven to reach 5 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F; use a deep-fry thermometer to check the oil temperature.

Whisk the eggs in a small baking dish. Place the breadcrumbs in another baking dish. Roll the rice balls lightly in the eggs and then immediately roll in the breadcrumbs to form a coating. Shake off the excess breadcrumbs. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to fry.

To fry, carefully drop the rice balls into the hot oil, a few at a time, taking care not to overcrowd and lower the oil temperature. Cook until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes per batch. Bring the oil back up to 350 degrees F before cooking each batch. Drain the rice balls on paper towels before serving.

Serve with Classic Red Sauce for dipping. Garnish with the basil.


+ Substitute peas for any of your favorite vegetable.
 + For a vegetarian spin, omit meat and replace with sautéed crimini mushrooms.