Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rice Fritters for Hanukkah

Fritelle di Riso
Here's a great way to end your Hanukkah meal (after you’ve had Hanukkah gelt on your dinner plate). Like the carote alla guidia, this dish comes from the culinary traditions of the Jews of Italy. Since I’m of Italian descent,[1] these dishes resonate with me.[2] I really like rice-based desserts, as one of my family’s great traditional dishes is another rice-based dessert.[3]

This recipe comes from The Classic Dolci of the Italian Jews; A World of Jewish Desserts, by Edda Servi Machlin. Machlin was born in Pitigliano, a village in Tuscany, later emigrating to the United States. In a way, they’re sort of the Italian dessert version of latkes, and when they’re cooking in the skillet, if it weren’t for the presence of the raisins, they would look very much like them (rice, potatoes—little bits of starch). The recipes are even fairly similar, as you have starch bound together with egg then fried. No onions in these though. Save those for your latkes.
Fritelle di Riso
From The Classic Dolci of the Italian Jews

½ cup Italian or short-grain rice
1 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
Grated rind of ½ lemon
½ cup dark seedless raisins
2 egg yolks
Olive oil for frying
Confectioners sugar

Bring the water, rice, and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Lower the heat to a simmer, cook without stirring for 15 minutes or until very soft and dry. Remove and heat and cool slightly, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar, flour, lemon zest, raisins, and egg yolks. Mix well.

Add about a ½ of oil to a hot skillet, cooking the rice mixture by the tablespoons. Gently fry until golden on all sides, then drain on a paper towel. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
The mix, ready for frying
(Machlin actually suggests using vanilla-flavored confectioners sugar, which takes at least two weeks of forethought, and even though it’s easy to make, isn’t happening in my kitchen.)

These are wonderful! Sweet and crunchy, reminiscent of latkes, but also a satisfying dessert. If you’re going to make both, you’ll want to either wipe out the skillet after the latkes (please don’t make onion-flavored rice fritters), or use a different pan. I could eat these all day.

Fritelle di riso deserves a place on everyone’s Hanukkah table. If you don’t have a Hanukkah table,[4] then they just deserve a place on your table. They’re easy to make. If you’ve ever made rice and cooked a pancake, you have all the necessary skills for making fritelle di riso.

Happy Hanukkah!
Hey, are those raisins in the latkes?

  1. Really, despite the French surname.  ↩
  2. Though of Italian descent, not of Jewish Italian descent.  ↩
  3. One I’ve been meaning to write about for months, and really should soon.  ↩
  4. In the case that you don’t celebrate Hanukkah.  ↩

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