Despite having spent 8 of my precious childhood years in North Carolina, I cannot cook anything even vaguely southern. I spent years enjoying pig pickings and hush puppies, and most of my adult life forgetting all about that style of cooking. So it was with some trepidation that I attempted Fried Risotto Cakes.
I know what you are thinking – it’s not like fried risotto is on the weekly menu in the south. And, yeah, it’s a pretty Yankeefied attempt at southern cooking. But I think it still counts, as the critical element here is the deep-fry (and resulting blazing hot spattering oil). Somehow, I imagine all good southern girls growing up with a detailed knowledge of exactly how to fry and barbecue everything without destroying their kitchens or their clothes, or their make-up in the process. This is information that I clearly missed out on.
For the last Entertaining Wednesday, we had some vegetarian neighbors over for dinner. Holy God, I hate cooking vegetarian for dinner parties. Even though I make vegetarian entrees about half the time I cook, somehow when faced with the vegetarian limitation, I can come up with NOTHING that I want to make. Nothing feels special enough for guests, or if I can come up with something I like, I can never come up with side dishes to go with it. It’s just harder to plan somehow.
So when my Tennessee-bred girlfriend C posted fried risotto cakes on her Facebook page, and I happened to have gobs of leftover vegeterain risotto, I figured it would be perfect. True to my northern ways, I actually called C after looking at the recipe to see if she thought it would work to do the cakes on a non-stick countertop skillet. I figured it would be less mess, all the cakes would come out at exactly the same time, and they would taste less heavy.
C – “I wouldn’t do that.”
Me – “Really? Really?“
C – “You can always reuse the oil.”
Right. Because I was mostly concerned about wasting the oil. I figured that singing my eyebrows off because I know nothing about frying was No Big Deal.
I still wish I had used the skillet.
The recipe actually called for cakes that were 2 inches thick. I can only assume that this approximation was made by someone who either has grown up using the metric system or has never seen a ruler, because that’s just ridiculous. Mine were a bit too thin however, and they tended to fall apart. An inch would have worked well. I made 12 cakes out of about 5 C of leftover risotto. 2 of them were perfect.
This recipe is not for perfectionists, amateur fryers, or people who are very attached to their eyebrows. For all others – it really is amazingly delicious!
5 C leftover risotto
1 C cheese at some point in the process, either when you make the original risotto or mixed in before you shape the cakes
1 1/2 C breadcrumbs (I used a mix of recently grated bread, and the seasoned kind you can get over the counter)
Just freakin’ BUCKETS of oil
The basic process is: shape the cakes, dip in egg, dip in breadcrumbs, fry 3 mins per side.