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(from Mama Mary’s Cook Book)
Mary Ann Pastore learned to cook many things from Mike Pastore’s late grandmother, Mary Pastore, including these Italian rice balls, which they made every year for Christmas Eve. Although the rice balls involve several steps, they come together easily. The recipe calls for coating the balls in cracker meal, but Mary Ann says cornmeal or panko crumbs will work just fine.
¾ pound ground veal
½ pound Italian cheese (grated Parmesan or Romano or a combination of both)
½ pound breadcrumbs
¼ pound butter
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 pound long grain rice
4 cups cracker meal (or cornmeal or panko)
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for deep frying
Mix the following well: veal, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons cheese, salt and pepper to taste, breadcrumbs and parsley. Let it cook with olive oil in frying pan for 20 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks. Put on the side and allow to cool a little.
Cook rice according to directions. Add salt and pepper to taste, 3 eggs, butter, the rest of the cheese and stir well until it is thick. Spread on a platter and let cool.
Break 1 or 2 eggs into a shallow dish and beat lightly. Put cracker meal (or cornmeal or panko crumbs) in another shallow dish. Set aside.
To form rice balls, take 2 tablespoons of rice mixture and flatten out in the palm of the hand. Put 1 tablespoon of the ground meat on top of the rice mixture; then take more rice and flatten it, placing on top of the meat and with both hands form a ball of the mixture. Roll ball in beaten egg and then cracker meal (Mary Pastore sometimes double-dipped the rice balls, Mary Ann says). Put rice balls on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet until ready to fry.
Heat oil in a deep fryer or deep skillet. Deep fry the balls 1 at a time, placing them in the pan with a spoon. Do not stir, however. When bottom half is brown, turn carefully and brown other half. Place on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels to drain off excess shortening. Serve hot with tomato sauce.