When I traveled to Rome a few years ago, it was one of the best times of my life. I basically just wandered the streets and ate all the foods while taking in the sights. The juxtaposition of so many eras of history combined in a modern city was breathtaking to me. I was inspired by many of the foods on that trip, from the carbonara and amatriciana, to the long pizzas served by weight and cut with scissors, but a street food called suppli stood out in my mind.
On first glance, suppli can seem like just another version of arancini, the more popular brother of the fried rice ball sibling family, but a few things make this version unique. First, the rice is cooked in a tomato sauce instead of chicken stock. This gives the rice a deep tomato flavor that permeates the suppli. The other is the cheese. Suppli are made with a stringy mozzarella that stretches when you break into them. This earned them the nickname “suppli al telephono” because the cheese was reminiscent of the telephone wires that were strung across the city.
Suppli al Telefono
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1 small onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 14 ounces canned crushed tomato
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 4 sticks mozzarella cheese string cheese
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- olive oil
- Saute the onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes to soften. Add the rice and cook for 3 more minute while stirring. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes.
- Add the can of tomato along with the oregano and cook about 5 minutes stirring until most of the excess liquid has evaporated. Fill the can with water and add to the pan. Repeat, adding more water everytime the mixture looks dry and tight, until the rice is tender and fully cooked.
- Refrigerate the rice overnight or at least for a few hours till chilled and firmed up.
- Cut each mozzarella stick into thirds.
- Heat up about an inch of olive oil to 375 in a deep frying pan.
- Wrap rice mixture around each stick of cheese, and coat it in breadcrumbs. Press the breadcrumbs onto the rice. Keep the rice layer fairly thin around the cheese to form the cylinder shape.
- Fry in the oil to brown on all sides, flipping to brown evenly.
- Remove from oil, to a drying rack and salt. Allow to cool before serving.