Rice Croquettes

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This is an old Depression Era throwback. It’s often the things we ate out of necessity that we cling to as comfort food. My grandmother, “Nonni”, would fry up everything if she had oil going. Left over rice never went to waste in the form of rice croquettes.

There’s no major science to this recipe. It’s an excellent excuse to make something fried if you have leftover rice from dinner or you can make it as a great appetizer on a drizzly evening. For this recipe I used:

3 cups over-cooked rice (see below)

3 TBSP finely grated NY sharp cheddar (I don’t believe in orange cheese)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp garlic powder

1 egg

2 TBSP milk

Boil the crap out of the rice. Keep an eye on it, let it absorb all the extra water, and stir, stir, stir. You want the rice very tender. Once the rice has boiled about ten minutes past it’s normal done time, take it off the heat and let it cool for at least 10 – 15 minutes. Mix together all the ingredients in no particular order until everything is well combined, make sure the egg is really blended into the rice mixture.

Bring 1-2 inches of vegetable or peanut oil up to 310-325 degrees in a sauce pan over high heat. While you’re waiting for the oil to reach the proper temperature, form your rice mixture into ovals about inch thick and 2-3 inches long. This mixture should make about 12. Use a small bowl of clean water to help everything from sticking to your hands, though it is a bit of a messy process. The ovals will be delicate; shape them as best you can.

Once the oil is heated carefully drop the rice croquettes into the oil. I am comfortable doing this carefully and slowly with my hands, as practice and experience has taught me how to do this without getting burned. If you’re at all nervous about dropping these delicate bites into the hot oil, place them on a spatula and then gently roll them of that into the oil using a spoon.

Fry the croquettes for 3-4 minutes or until they are golden brown on one side. Then gently turn them using two forks for support and brown the other side for an additional 3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and parsley once they’re out of the pan.

Once you get making them down-pat, you can try stuffing them with hunks of cheese, prosciutto, or hot peppers. Use different spices in the mix based on your mood, anything goes with these really. With this recipe I recommend serving them as is or with a lemony, honey aioli. Hell, even honey mustard works well if a dipping sauce is needed. As a kid I loved them plain or with a little bit of fresh lemon squeezed over them. Delicious, simple comfort food made from leftovers from a time of an almost equally bad economy.

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