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When I was a little girl in Sicily, this was one of my favourite foods. The difficulty here is patience in making them but oh so worth the effort. These are easily reheated and are a meal on their own. I usually serve two per person.

Preparation time: 6 hours
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Difficulty: Difficult - for experienced cooks
Serves: 6

Dietary guidance: n 

Tags: main · snack · appetizer ·


3 cups white rice
3/4 lb shredded beef*
1 jar spaghetti sauce**
1 1/2 cup raw peeled potatoes, diced to pea size
8 oz mozzarella cheese
2 sticks salted butter
2 cups peas
4 eggs
2 cups breadcrumbs with Italian seasoning
4 cups cooking oil, for frying

*I typically use deli style roast beef, broken into small half-inch pieces. I have also tried it the way my parents did with a small chunk of roast beef, cooked in advance and then pulled and shredded - but I think this recipe is time consuming enough without having to cook a roast as well.


In a large pot, pour 6 cups of water and a dash of salt. Bring to boil. Add rice and cover, lowering to medium-low heat. Once rice has cooked, remove heat and put both sticks of butter into the pot. Cover and let sit for ten minutes. Stir thoroughly and leave uncovered.
In a separate pot, pour spaghetti sauce in over medium heat. Add beef and potatoes and stir often. Potatoes should be cooked but firm, not mushy. Once done, add peas and remove from heat.
Spread out a large sheet of wax paper and when rice is cool to touch, begin forming it into balls about three inches in diameter. Let sit on wax paper to harden to the outside a bit. Once the outside is hardened enough to hold its form, use a finger to create a hole in it about an inch to two inches deep. Press in a decent amount of mozzarella and a heaping spoonful of the meat mixture. Tighten the form of the ball to seal the hole and set aside.
The balls should sit for about 3 to 4 hours.
After the balls have sat to harden, begin to heat the oil. My dad's recipe says to 350 degrees, but to be honest I have always checked it the way my mom did - toss in a bread crumb and when it sizzles, the oil is ready.
In a medium bowl, break eggs and beat thoroughly.
Pour bread crumbs onto a plate.
Dip the balls individually into the egg batter and then roll in bread crumbs until covered completely. Using a serving spoon, lower the ball into the oil, bouncing it gently on the spoon, but do not drop it into the oil as it is very heavy and breaks apart easily.
When a dark golden brown, remove from oil and gingerly lay on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.


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