These balls have so many different names and variations throughout Italy. You may have heard of them as arancini or risotto balls or supplì. I love the name ‘supplì al telefono‘, which came about because when you pull them apart the oozing cheese makes a long curly cord like the old-fashioned telephones. You’ll find giant arancini balls at airports as a great snack on the go but I find these too big and heavy and you don’t get to the filling on the first bite. When I prepare these at home I prefer to make them quite small so that people can devour them in two bites as a delicious aperitivo snack.
Finely dice 1 onion and fry until soft in a pan with olive oil and a tablespoon of butter. Add 400g of arborio rice, coating in the oil and cooking until the outside of each grain becomes transparent. In another pot heat 600ml of vegetable stock and gradually ladle it into the rice, stirring constantly until all the stock is absorbed. Once the stock is finished, pour 500ml of tomato passata into the pot to warm and gradually ladle again into the pan of rice until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper a lay the risotto out in a large pan to cool.
When the rice is room temperature, mix in 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan, a handful of chopped basil and 2 beaten eggs. Roll balls in your hands and push a cube of mozzarella into the centre of each ball, squeezing the rice compact and tight around the cheese so it doesn’t escape when cooking.
Beat about 3 eggs in a bowl and dip each ball in this egg mixture before rolling it a bowl of 2 cups of fine breadcrumbs. You can shallow fry these balls in a hot pan with a little olive oil, which requires careful turning to do all sides or deep fry them for a minute or two, which is the easiest, if you have the means. Whichever way you choose, be sure to serve them immediately for perfect oozing mozzarella results.