The second round: chive risotto cakes.

Yeah so I made these quite a while ago, over a year, and it was kind of a disaster. Not that they weren’t tasty; they were. But they fell apart, weren’t crispy enough and were basically flat, sad little soft disks of cheese, rice & panko. They’re an Ina Garten recipe and I’ve never, ever, EVER had any issues with her recipes. However this one was my fault. I fucked it up. Embarrassingly so. And that, my friends, is why I’m doing a second round. I must conquer the chive risotto cake.

the first time, I used the wrong yogurt, which definitely contributed to the mess. Greek yogurt in these is a MUST- it’s so thick it really keeps everything together. DO NOT USE YOGURT THAT ISN’T GREEK BUT CLAIMS TO BE ” EXTRA THICK.” It’s not. Use Greek. Not Icelandic, not American, not French, not Mexican, not Yoplait… GREEK. Also, I did not leave them to chill in the fridge long enough. On top of the “wrong-yogurt” debacle, I also couldn’t control my impatient self and of course, didn’t wait “at least two hours.” I know, I’m groaning too. I’m a fool. But I’m going to redeem myself with this post today. Because these came out so perfect, Ina herself would gasp in delight.

See? Gasp-worthy.

CHIVE RISOTTO CAKES

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 ½ cups grated Italian fontina cheese (5 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • Good olive oil

Directions:

  1. Bring a large (4-quart) pot of water to a boil over medium-low heat 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.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, fontina, 1 ¼ teaspoons of 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.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  4. Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using a standard (2 ¼-inch) ice-cream scoop or a large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾-inch thick. Place 4 to 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.
  5. 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. Arrange on a serving platter and serve hot.

As far as the fontina, you can use any pale-colored cheese you like. I used white cheddar both times because I love it. But if you love fontina, then use it. I used chives from my own garden this time, and I can’t tell you that made much of a difference in flavor, although I added more because last time I skimped, so it did have a better chive flavor. And it was certainly convenient to just run outside my back door with a pair of scissors and snip off a bunch, unlike last time when I had to go to the store to buy some. I won’t tell you that the olive oil isn’t important, it is, if you use a shitty one the flavor isn’t going to be as nice. Sometimes cheap olive oil has a weird flavor to it. Stick with a good brand name for frying these. Also, I like to use the Italian flavored panko, but that’s up to you.

Mine stayed in the fridge for about 5 ½ hours this time before I fried them. The difference was amazing. They molded perfectly, stuck together, didn’t fall apart even in the frying pan. They came out exactly right; crispy, crunchy outside and a creamy inside. Yum. That parsley garnish is also from my garden. My parsley is crazy-go-nuts, seriously. It’s like a shrub.

So let’s go over the “DON’TS” of this recipe one more time:

  1. DON’T use any yogurt other than plain Greek yogurt.
  2. DON’T be impatient: let it sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  3. DON’T use breadcrumbs other than panko.
  4. DON’T use regular rice!!!!! THIS IS A BIG NO-NO. Arborio only!

Like I said last time, these are a great light dinner item and an even better lunch item. Served with a fresh salad? Perfect. Despite the cheese and the yogurt and the eggs, they’re very light tasting. Not overly greasy or heavy, but full of flavor.

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