Rice Croquettes with Orange Honey

(“Crocchette di Riso con Miele all’Arancia")
(
“Crispeddi di Risu”)


 


The crispeddi with rice are a sweet snack originally made in Catania by the Benedictine monks. In present times, this local delicacy is often prepared by the housewives for an after dinner dessert or for the traditional children afternoon break, the merenda.
These rice croquettes have a different taste!
The combination of salt and honey is reminiscent of the Greek tradition and the noticeable aroma and taste of the orange scented honey serves to remind one of the pleasant and intense perfume of the orange groves which are so abundant in the vast hinterland surrounding Catania.
The feature of these crispy finger size pancakes, covered with orange blossom honey, is in the easiness of the preparation and because they are well liked by everybody, they will disappear in no time.

 

Makes about 50 Rice Croquettes

 

Ingredients: 

For the Rice

  • 1 qt. milk
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 Lb of Arborio or Caroline rice
  • 1 oz. yeast or 1 envelopes of dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • zest of one orange
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 drops of vanilla

For the Frying

  • 2 lb. of sifted fine Italian breadcrumbs placed in a wide container with
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup of milk
  • deep fryer, preferable filled with peanut oil at 375 degrees or
  • a large sauté pan with at least 2 inch of peanut oil, canola oil or
  • your preferred oil for frying

For the Honey Coating

  • 10 oz. jar of Orange Blossom Honey
  • juice of 4 oranges
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • zest of 1 lemon

 

Preparation

The Rice
In a 6 qt. sauce pot combine milk, water, salt and rice, bring to a boil, then simmer at a very low heat.
Stirring occasionally cook rice until all liquid is absorbed, should result a well cooked rice.
In half a cup of warm water dilute yeast and sugar, when it is well blended add to the still hot cooked rice together with the zest of 1 orange, cinnamon and vanilla.
Set aside until it cools off and the yeast can react with the starch in the rice, about 1 hour.

The Croquettes
Briefly work and compact cooled rice into a mass, wet hands with oil and shape some rice into a small ball; by applying a little pressure roll rice ball to form a cylinder the size of a finger. To make the croquettes uniform in size, use a 3 ounces ice cream scoop, split each scoop in half, then proceed making the “Crispeddi di Risu”. 
Place the croquettes in an oiled pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate a few hours.

The Honey
Combine the honey with orange and lemon juice, blend well and add the zest of orange and lemon. If the honey is too thick, place the jar in a pan with warm water for a few minute.

The Frying
Place milk and eggs in a wide bowl and beat until smooth.
Place the croquettes, a few at a time, into the egg mixture. 
Taking one croquette at a time, remove from egg mixture and place it in the container with the breadcrumbs.
Gently squeeze the breadcrumbs into croquette to cover all sides, and place in a pan or dish. Once they are all breaded proceed to frying.
Heat oil at 375 degrees or until it is hot, before it reaches the smoking point.
Carefully lower the Crispeddi into the oil, a few at a time, turning them to fry on all sides, until light golden brown.
Using a slotted spoon, remove from oil and dry on paper towels.

The Serving
Dip each croquette in the honey mixture and place in a serving dish to form a stack. Pour any leftover honey over it and serve hot or cold.