3 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice (we used Jasmine)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
4 cups chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 18 chunks
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups Italian-style breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and oil.
Add diced onion to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and translucent and beginning to caramelize (about 15 minutes). Add garlic to the pan and saute 1-2 minutes longer.
Pour white wine into the skillet and bring to a simmer. Simmer until liquid is reduced by half (about 5 minutes).
Add rice and fresh herbs to the pan and stir to combine.
Stir in 2 cups of the chicken broth and bring mixture to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Add the remaining broth, a single ladle full at a time, stirring and allowing the liquid to be absorbed into the rice before adding the next ladle of broth. Continue cooking, stirring, and adding broth until the rice is soft and cooked completely, and all of the liquid has been absorbed (about 30 minutes).
Remove rice from the heat and stir in parmesan cheese until melted and evenly distributed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spread the rice mixture into a pan to cool (cool for an hour or two or even refrigerate overnight).
Use a large spoon or a cookie dough scoop to scoop the rice into a ball about the size of a golf ball. Flatten the rice into a pancake or open bowl shape. Place a chunk of mozzarella cheese in the center of the rice and wrap the rice up around the mozzarella chunk. Roll the rice into a smooth ball.
Begin heating the cooking oil in a heavy stockpot or Dutch oven. Make sure the oil is several inches deep. Heat the oil to precisely 375°F (this will take 15 minutes or so).
Prepare your dredging station. Set up three shallow bowls – one with the flour, one with the eggs, and one with the breadcrumbs.
Dip each rice ball in the flour, then into the eggs, and then into the breadcrumbs. Coat all of the rice balls on all sides. Roll them around until they are golden brown (about 1 minute total).
Lift the fried rice balls from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to soak up any excess oil.
Garnish with a bit of Parmesan cheese and freshly chopped herbs.
Serve hot with marinara or your favorite dipping sauce.
Be sure that the oil is at least 3” deep so that the rice balls can really drop into the hot oil. They will sink at first, but then will float on the oil and you will need to roll them a bit so they brown evenly on all sides.
Maintain the oil temperature consistently for best results. The rice balls will absorb too much oil if the oil is not hot enough. They will burn if the oil is too hot.
The rice mixture is much like a risotto. Stirring frequently and adding the liquid gradually makes a nice creamy rice. Once cooled, it is the perfect consistency to stick together and form a nice ball around the mozzarella chunks.
Standard mozzarella balls from the grocery store are 16 oz. Half of one of these is the perfect amount to cut into 18 uniform squares of cheese.
I like the Italian-style breadcrumbs because of the extra flavors from the herbs added to the mixture, but you can use panko or whatever type of breadcrumbs you prefer.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or in the air fryer.