From local favorites like porchetta, pinza, and trapizzinii to well-known classics like pizza and gelato, you could go days just noshing solely on street food and be more than satisfied.
While we were filming the Rome episode of Off Menu we had a hard time deciding which of the many noteworthy foods we wanted to focus on. But the debate was off once we tried the suppli at Supplizio. As the name might suggest, this place specializes in serving the rice ball street snack known as supplì (pronounced "sue-plea").
You may be thinking, "I've had fried risotto balls before but they were called arancini not suppli." Well, suppli are cousins to arancini in that they’re both deep-fried rice croquettes. But, like everything in Rome, suppli are bold and unique.
Arancini (pronounced "are-ahn-chee-nee" and meaning little oranges) are a classic Sicilian street food made with cooked short grain rice, combined with ingredients like the local caciocavallo cheese, breaded, and deep fried.. Arancini tends to be larger than suppli and formed in a round shape except near Mount Etna where they're conical form is an homage to the volcano. And arancini clock in about the size of a baseball.
Unlike the suppli, the arancini tend to have the rice sepearate from the ragu. The arancini rice is usually made like risotto but with a pinch of saffron and then the ragu or cheese is encased by the rice. Also, the ratio of filling to rice is such that the arancini can get to be 50/50 filling and rice.
Also, the arancini are more ancient than the suppli as they are credited with having brought saffron and rice to the island in the 10th century and the snack came about when the working class would mix the rice with leftovers as a hearty snack.
By comparison, the suppli is said to have been introduced to Rome during the 19th century. It's believed they made suppli as a type of rice meatball, using the rice to add bulk to the meatballs when meat was in short supply. While suppli started as a snack sold by street vendors, it's known most commonly seen in friggitorie or small shops that specialize in selling fried food. Also, it is smaller and usually formed into an oblong "pill" shape like you see in the photo here.
The word "suppli" is unique and it's not totally clear where it comes from though some think it might be a variation on the french word for surprise. By contrast, the "al telefono" part is clearer in that it means “telephone-style.” That is in reference to when the suppli is stuffed with mozzarella cheese. As the suppli is fried the cheese becomes molten nad when the croquette is cracked open, a long string of cheese connects them like an old-fashioned telephone cord.
The suppli at Supplizio are by far the best I’ve ever had and, though owner Arcangelo (how great is that name, btw?) has all sort of amazing versions, I was partial to the classic tomato, basil, and mozzarella combination. These take a while to make but they are very much easy to make ahead (you can even fry them ahead and just warm them in a low oven before serving). There are a few tips that will help make them a success:
Okay, now it's time to stock up your panty with all the Italian essential ingredients, then try your hand at making this and then share your creation with us by tagging @saltandwind and #swsociety on social!
or vegetable broth or water (to make vegetarian), warmed
about 2 cups
divided and well beaten
thinly sliced just before using
cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Make The Tomato Sauce Base: Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When it foams, add the onion, stir to coat, and cook until soft. Season with salt and pepper then add the tomatoes, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Cook The Risotto: Stir in the rice then add the stock about 1/2 cup at a time. Cook like any other risotto, but only until it is just no longer chalky, about 15 minutes total.
Remove from stove and stir in the remaining butter, Parmigiano Reggiano, and basil, and mix well.
Assemble The Suppli: Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes then stir in 4 of the beaten eggs until well incorporated. Turn the risotto mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet and spread it out evenly so it can cool down.
As soon as it is cool enough to touch, after about 15 minutes, divide the mixture into about 25 to 30 portions. Using wet hands or plastic gloves, form each portion into a compact ball like you would for making meatballs.
Then hold hte ball in one palm and using your opposite hand's thumb, make a hole in the middle of each ball. Add in 1 small piece of slow-roasted tomato and a piece of mozzarella and push down until it's in the middle of the risotto mixture. Push some of the risotto mixture on top of the filling so that the tomato and mozzarella are completely enclosed by risotto.
Continue working to shape the suppli into the shape of a large oblong pill (see the photo for references). Repeat to form 30 suppli. Set the suppli on parchment paper or a silicone mat until they are all formed.
It will help to wash your hands frequently and keep them wet, in this way the rice will not stick to your fingers
Coat The Suppli: Once the 30 risotto balls are formed, they need to be breaded. To do so, place the remaining 4 eggs in a bowl and beat well. Put the breadcrumbs in a separate plate.
Dip each supplì in the egg then coat well with breadcrumbs and work to make the suppli into a more compact oblong pill shape. Repeat for all the suppli then re-dip them all again in both the egg and breadcrumbs for a double coating. Set the suppli on a cooling rack nested in a baking sheet and set in the refrigerator covered until ready to fry.
Suppli can be coated and made up to 2 days ahead. Store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.
Fry The Suppli And Serve: To fry the suppli, line a large plate or baking sheet with paper towels and have salt nearby. Thenplace 2 inches of oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high. Add a deep fat thermometer and heat to 375°F.
Gently place a few suppli in the heated oil (only add enough that they fiit in the frying pot without touching each other and the temperature doesn't drop below 350°F).
Deep fry the suppli, rolling them around with a slotted spoon, until deep golden, about 5 minutes. Remove them and put them on a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain the excess oil. Season immediately with a pinch of salt and repeat to fry all the arancini. Serve warm.
The suppli can be fried up to two days ahead of time then stored in the refrigreator until ready to serve. When you want to serve them, warm them in a 250°F oven until they're warm to the touch, about 15 minutes.
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