The Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients cookbook by Ina Garten has turned out to be one of my favorite Christmas gifts this year. Thanks CK! Almost immediately after opening it I started tagging recipes that I wanted to make. I soon realized that it would probably have been easier to just mark the foods that I didn’t want to try. In the last two weeks I’ve already made three dishes, thoroughly enjoying each one, but these simple Chive Risotto Cakes are by far my choice for most delicious meal from the book thus far.
Right up front I want to point out to you that the directions require chilling the rice and cheese mixture for several hours, or better yet overnight. I glossed over that instruction initially and found myself completely exasperated on Wednesday evening when I realized that I had to put my cheesy bowl of ingredients to bed in the refrigerator and instead ended up serving frozen pizza for dinner. By the way, you definitely need to complete this step so that your cakes stay firm and don’t break apart while you’re cooking them. When Ina tells you to do something a certain way you should always do it – no questions asked.
The flavor of these cakes hovers somewhere in between a really good grilled cheese sandwich and the best homemade hash browns you’ve ever been served at brunch. Which is great because this means you can make these crispy treats for any meal of the day, and trust me, you’re going to want to. I’m already dreaming up ideas for other risotto cake flavors. Like risotto itself, almost anything goes. Right now a little roasted red pepper and goat cheese seems like a delicious future experiment, or maybe even some sun-dried tomato and Gruyère. Decisions! Decisions!
Chive Risotto Cakes
Originally published in Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients by Ina Garten
Serves 6 (Yields approximately 20 small cakes)
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
½ cup Greek yogurt
2 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1½ cups grated Italian Fontina cheese (5 ounces)
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup panko
Extra virgin olive oil
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a half tablespoon salt and the rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The grains of rice will be quite soft. Drain the rice and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.
Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, Fontina, 1¼ 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.
Preheat 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 ice cream scoop or large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾ inches 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. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes.