Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, page 174-175; Serves 6
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
½ cup Greek yogurt
2 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 ½ cup cups grated Italian Fontina cheese (5 ounces)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
Good olive oil
Bring a large (4 quart) pot of water to a boil and add ½ tablespoon salt and the Arborio rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The grains of rice will be quite soft. Drain the rice in a sieve and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.
Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, Fontina, 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, and the pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cooled rice and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, until firm.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using a standard (2 1/4 –inch) ice cream scoop or a large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾ inch thick. Place 4-6 patties in the panko, turning once to coat. Place the patties in the hot oil and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side until the risotto cakes are crisp and nicely browned. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Continue cooking in batches, adding oil as necessary, until all the cakes are fried. Serve hot.
I thought the recipe was easy enough, but you definitely need to have at least 2 hours in the fridge. They are a little hard to keep together, but I did make a few adjustments. I used regular plain yogurt that I drained through a sieve to get a more greek yogurt-like consistency. I couldn't find it at my local store -- kind of a bummer. I used dried shallots instead of chives because I forgot to buy them at the grocery store and wasn't about to schlep my two little ones out in the cold. However, with those adjustments, I still thought they were fantastic.
An observation on this recipe: mine were a little bigger than Ina's. It says that it serves 6, but it doesn't say how many you should make. She says to use a standard ice cream scoop or large spoon. I used the latter. While she does say how big they should be, once you have the mixture in your hands, the last thing you want to do is to take stuff away from an already delicate mixture to make it the size recommended, in my opinion. I also had my lovely sous chef helping me. If you have ever made anything with a preschooler, you'll understand when I say that once you start, you really can't stop. It would have been easier to know from the get-go how many patties the recipe yields.
That being said, they were delicious, and my husband has requested that they go into the rotation. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Ina has never done me wrong!