What are Supplì?
Suppli (correctly spelt Supplì) or Arancini are Breaded Risotto Balls
Suppli come from Rome and the Lazio region. These delicious Breaded Risotto Balls are known as Arancini throughout many other parts of Italy and are originally from Sicily.
One of the main differences between Supplì and Arancini is that Supplì tend to have cheese in the centre. The very traditional Roman Supplì are made with a meat & tomato risotto and have mozzarella in the centre.
Suppli are exquisite Italian morsels. You can eat them as starters (that’s their original place in a meal) or as finger-food at a buffet, as a main meal with a salad, or as a perfect TV dinner, to name but a few ways to enjoy these versatile little risotto balls! Supplì are usually served in traditional “Pizzerie” (Pizza Restaurants) as ‘antipasti’ (starters). They can be made with almost any risotto base.
For about a year, I ran a business (Cini Ltd), making and selling these delicious morsels. I put together a short video to show you a glimpse of what a day in the Cini Suppli kitchen used to look like (hours of work condensed into under 2 mins of video!)
The Roman/Lazio “Supplì al Telefono” (called that way because, when cut in half, the two halves are on a ‘telephone wire’ to each other via the stringy melted cheese) tend to be more oval-shaped, whereas “Arancini” can have round, oval or tear-drop shapes. I tend to make them all into small, round morsels as they are easier to shape and easier to eat as a snack or appetiser. They make fabulous party food!
Supplì are not hugely difficult to make, though they do require patience as they take time. It may take a few attempts before you get them right, but it’s worth persevering. If you really don’t want to make them yourself, do make sure you try them if you go to Rome. Or ask for Arancini in other parts of southern Italy, especially Naples and Sicily.
The recipe below is for small, round vegetarian – tomato and mozzarella – ones (traditional Roman ones are larger and oval, and are made with a minced meat and tomato risotto base – similar to a bolognese sauce in a risotto – rather than a simple tomato and onion risotto base).
This recipe makes approximately 35-40 small (roughly golf ball sized) Supplì:
- Tomato risotto made with 300g dry rice (see recipe – but don’t add the extra knob of butter or parmesan at the end – or buy a pre-prepared risotto)
TIP: If you were making ordinary risotto, you would leave it quite ‘wet’, but for the Supplì you need to ensure you don’t have excess liquid. Also, bear in mind that the rice will become drier as it cools down and absorbs the last of the moisture.
- 75g soft fresh mozzarella (drained weight)
- 300-400g cheap, semi-stale, white bread made into breadcrumbs in a food blender
TIP: place the breadcrumbs onto a large, deep food-serving/oven tray. You won’t use all the breadcrumbs but you’ll need an ample supply of them in order to thoroughly coat the individual supplì
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 200g plain white flour – as with the breadcrumbs, you won’t use all of it but you need plenty to roll the supplì in…put it in a large tray so you have ample space
- vegetable oil for frying
- Leave the risotto to cool for a couple of hours or, ideally, in a fridge overnight
- Add vegetable oil to a medium saucepan until half full (approx. 3-4cm in depth) and place on the hob, on a medium-high heat, taking care never to let it over-heat and become smoky – or, heat oil in a deep fat fryer to 180°C
- Prepare yourself a little production line: the risotto, a bowl/plate containing the mozzarella (torn into small pieces), another bowl containing the plain white flour, one with the lightly beaten eggs and another containing the breadcrumbs
TIP: I like to use latex/vinyl gloves when rolling the Supplì – it stops my hands from turning orange and also allows the fat from the risotto to stay on the rice rather than absorb into my hands, which makes it easier to coat the rice balls in flour. I also like to have a bowl of lukewarm water and a towel handy so that I can wash excess breadcrumbs from my hands between batches.
- Take a small handful of rice and squeeze it in the palm of your hand until it starts sticking together; roll it into a ball then, using your finger, poke a hole into the middle
- Place a piece of mozzarella into the hole, then close it up again and form a neat ball between the palms of your hands, ensuring that no mozzarella sticks out
- Lightly roll the rice ball in flour
- Dip the rice ball into the eggs
- Place the rice ball onto the breadcrumbs, then gather a good amount in your hands and cover the rice ball. Pick the rice ball up and compact the breadcrumbs further with the palms of your hands, ensuring an even (but not too thick) coating and so that there are no parts of the rice ball that have no coating
TIP: You can either repeat this process until all your rice balls are ready to fry or you can do them in batches of 3-4 and roll the next batch while you’re frying the previous one; the latter method is faster, but if you’re nervous about timings/burning the supplì, do the two steps separately.
- If using a pan rather than a deep-fat fryer, check the temperature of the oil: if you drop a few breadcrumbs into it the oil should ‘fizz’ but the breadcrumbs should slowly turn golden, not instantly brown/blacken (if that’s the case, it’s too hot – take it off the heat for a couple of minutes, then test again)
- Drop a batch of supplì (not too many – 3-4, depending on the size of the pan/fryer you’re using) into the oil. You need to have enough oil in the pan for this to be a deep-frying process, so the supplì are fully immersed in hot oil without touching the bottom of the pan
- After 3-4 minutes, the supplì should be golden. Lift them out with a slotted spoon (or fryer basket) and rest them on a tray or plate, lined with absorbent paper (e.g. kitchen roll)
- Repeat the process until they are all cooked
- Serve after they have had a couple of minutes to cool down
TIP: You can make these a day in advance and then reheat them in the oven, at 180°C (fan-assisted, otherwise 200°C) for approx. 20 mins
Supplì | Gloriously Good!