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I got an email from a reader yesterday, which made me happy.

“Hey, just re: Jess Kapadia’s article today on frozen single servings of rice — someone please tell this girl about arancini! She’s missing a vital life experience.”

I think arancini is one of the greatest dishes ever to grace Italian cuisine, and I’m more than happy to address them in a lunchlike manner. They’re like giant meatballs of crunchy, cheesy, buttery rice, doused in marinara, just waiting to elevate your cholesterol to a more comfortable level. Sadly, there is no way to properly fry a large orb without a sizable deep-fryer. They’re also not particularly portable as they tend to roll around and get crushed. So in the spirit of using food nouns as verbs (it works very well for Chinese oranging and red velveting), croquette that leftover risotto.

Since you’re already tweaking the recipe slightly to make patties instead of balls, I recommend using panko breadcrumbs to keep things crisper and less absorbant. Take about a cup and a half of leftover risotto, divide into four portions and sculpt into patties. Place in a shallow dish of panko and press firmly to help the breadcrumbs adhere, making sure there are no unbreaded patches. Then fry in about an inch of canola or other neutral oil until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels and do what you will with them.

These croquettes make an awesome bed for a poached egg or half-assed rosette of smoked salmon, especially if your risotto had pancetta in it (which it should have) and they’re pretty good at room temperature or even cold. The last time I made these, I sandwiched a thick slice each of mozzarella and juicy summer tomato between two arancini croquettes with a little pesto. Italian overload. 

More fried goodness for lunch on Food Republic: