Supplì al telefono

We’ve had this recipe and accompanying photos ready for a week now, but the time and more importantly the inspiration to write a post around them have been missing.

Supplì al telefono

It arrived last night in the form of an 11-month-old bundle of smiles, curiosity and drool named Penelope.  She was our guest at dinner, along with her parents Veronica and Lauren, and our mutual friends Emily and Ben.  It was a brilliant evening to benefit the amazing students and teachers at Cara’s school, with a menu of some of our favorite seafood dishes:

Antipasto misto di pesce (Mixed seafood appetizers)
Riondo Prosecco
Pennette al salmone (Pennette in a creamy salmon sauce)

Lageder Pinot Nero
Pesce spada al cartoccio (Baked Swordfish with seafood)

Falanghina Terredora
Insalata mista (Baby Salad Greens)
Tiramisù al limoncello (Limoncello Tiramisù)

Caffè e Digestivi (Espresso and Digestif)

But, back to Penelope.  She was busy and happy.  She explored the living room, engaged playfully with the adults, and snacked on food from her own little portable, spill-proof bowl. Her parents took turns holding her, and before any of us realized it, 5 hours had passed.

It reminded us of when our oldest, Sean, was a baby.  We still lived in Rome then, and didn’t think twice about bringing him out with us where ever we went.  He was content to observe the world from his stroller or ride along in the baby carrier worn by his mamma or papà.

Some of our favorite spots to take him were Campo de’ Fiori, where we could content him with a piece of pizza rossa, the hill-town of Frascati in the Castelli Romani, or the village of Nemi, perched high above the volcanic lake Lago di Nemi, just south of Rome.  Nemi is famous for its berries, frutti di bosco, and especially the miniature wild strawberries that are bursting with flavor.  In summertime, it was a cool reprieve from the heat of Rome.  We’d take a stroll through Nemi’s narrow streets, stopping for a gelato alla crema with berries on top.  We’d bring along a banana and some Biscotti Plasmon, Italy’s quintessential baby biscuits, and ask the barman to add milk and blend up a smoothie for Sean.

Closer to home, Pizzeria Pizza & Fichi, at Via Alenda, 26 in Rome’s Giardinetti neighborhood was a favorite spot for Roman-style pizzas, filetti di baccalà and supplì, made by our friends Fabrizio, Massimo, Carmela and their mom at the family business.  We’d choose an outdoor table underneath a broad umbrella, order our pizzas, and feed Sean while we waited for our food.  Like clockwork, he would fall asleep by the time our pizza arrived.  We’d recline his stroller seat, place him back into it, and enjoy our pizza while he slept.

Supplì al telefono are a rice croquette fritter found on the antipasti menu in pizzerie all across the city.  The rice is cooked with a bit of tomato sauce, sometimes with ground beef, and let to cool.  Then, it is molded into an egg-like shape, and a piece of mozzarella is pushed into the middle of it before it is breaded and fried.  When the supplì is broken open, the melted mozzarella stretches from one piece to another, resembling the cord on an old-fashioned telephone.

for 8 supplì

500 grams Arborio, Vialone Nano or Carnaroli rice
1 large can of whole tomatoes (500 grams or 28 0z)
Ground beef, approximately 250 grams or 1/2 lb.
Olive oil
Fresh mozzarella
4 eggs
Vegetable, peanut or olive oil for frying

Prepare the sauce by dicing 1/4 of a small-medium onion, and sautéing in olive oil over medium heat.  Add the ground beef and brown it slowly, using a spatula to crumble the meat finely.  Add the tomatoes, passing them through a food mill.  Add a splash of water or red wine if too thick, and allow it to simmer for at least 45 minutes.  Salt to taste.

Cook the rice in abundant boiling water with a handful of salt tossed in, just as you would cook pasta, according to the cooking time on the package.  When the rice is done, drain off the water using a strainer.  Add the rice to the sauce and stir well until it is evenly coated.  Place onto a baking tray or into a large baking dish and spread it out in order to facilitate cooling.

Once the rice is cool, you are ready to assemble and fry the supplì.  Add your oil several inches deep into a pan suitable for frying, and place it over medium heat.

Supplì al telfono

Fill a dish with flour, another with breadcrumbs, and a final one with the eggs, which you will beat slightly.  Cut 8 small pieces of mozzarella to stuff inside the supplì.

Wet you hands to make it easier to handle the rice.  With your hands, scoop enough rice to make an egg-sized supplì.  Mold it into an oblong shape, and using your thumb make an indent in the center.  Fill the indent with a piece of mozzarella, and then enclose the mozzarella with rice so that it is tucked well inside.

Supplì al telefono

Dust the supplì in flour, dip it into the egg and rotate it so that it is well-coated, and then finally roll it in the breadcrumbs.  Some recipes suggest repeating a second coating of egg and breadcrumbs.  We tried it both ways and preferred a single layer, but you may wish to experiment and decide which option works best for you.

Supplì al telefonoSupplì al telefono

Gently place each supplì into the hot oil and fry until it takes on a rich brown hue.  Remove from the oil and set on absorbent paper towels.  Allow to cool slightly, and enjoy with a Birra Moretti.

Supplì al telefono

This entry was posted in Appetizers, Pasta, Rice and Grains, Recipes and Wine Pairings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Supplì al telefono

  1. Nicola Evoli says:

    Simply “SUBLIME”!

  2. Adri says:

    Oh I love suppli! Your posts are unerringly elegant. It is a pleasure to visit your site. I have to comment on how beautiful everything we see is. HEck of set, kids! It must be a joy to work in such gorgeous surroundings.

    Might I prevail upon your to talk a bit about your countertops and backsplash? Are they marble? My husband and I are preparing to take the “home remodel” plunge, and I covet your countertops. Could you address, the material, and how it stands up to everyday use – stains,etc? Thanks a bunch. You two are really a beautiful couple. Best always, and thank for the cool food!

    • duespaghetti says:

      Thank you, Adri! We had a house fire in October of 2011 that required the tear down of the entire interior of our home. The silver lining is that nearly a year later, we had a brand new kitchen, which we are loving. Our countertops and blackspash are marmo di carrara. It is beautiful, but somewhat delicate. Staining isn’t a problem. However, anything with any acidity at all – lemon juice, vinegar, juice from tomatoes, etc. – leaves small spots where the marble loses its shine. It also scratches easily – some hard food residue under a cutting board that is slid along the counter top may leave a scratch, for example. We knew this about marmo di carrara when we chose it. Our philosophy is that while we are careful and we wipe up spills quickly, we also are okay “living” in our kitchen and knowing that it will age right along with us.

  3. Ah, this post brought back so many lovely memories…

  4. Dr Dan says:

    Love these… and missing Rome!

  5. Simona says:

    When I was a kid I was always trying to decide whether I liked supplì better or crocchette di patate. I changed my mind at least twice a year. In reality, of course, they are both great dishes. As I was reading your memories about your son, I thought that explaining the name of this dish may already be tricky as kids his age probably have never seen a telephone with a cord. Great photos, as always, especially the top one.

  6. duespaghetti says:

    Crocchette di patate are delicious also! We’ve never tried to make them at home, but I bet it would be easy enough.

  7. Erin says:

    We stumbled upon your blog when researching the Amalfi Coast Drive; just want to say a huge thanks for your great tips! Not sure we’d be alive without them. We gave you a shout out in our most recent blog post. Cheers from fellow foodies- Erin and Matt

  8. duespaghetti says:

    Hi, Erin and Matt. Glad you survived! The Amalfi Coast is one of our favorite spots. Love Scotch and Soba – we’ll be checking back frequently to follow your adventures.

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