Italian Grana Padano Rice Croquettes

Croquettes are small, finger food made from ingredients into cylinders, balls, or patties, then dipped into bread crumbs and deep-fried.

The French word "croquette" means "to crunch". Their size varies from a small walnut to the size of a large egg.

They are usually made from mashed potatoes that serve as a binder, or some kind of sauce like brown or béchamel sauce, or even beaten eggs.

These small, often bite-sized treats are served as a side dish, a snack, a whole meal fast food.

Besides the binder, there is a wide range of ingredients you can use to mix a filling. You can use chopped or ground meat (veal, beef, chicken, or turkey), cheese, seafood, pasta, rice, cured meat, vegetables, spices, herbs, mushrooms, etc.

Even though you can put almost anything in the filling, there are some very popular recipes like celery, pea, potato, egg, rice, or ham croquettes.

Croquette history

There are a couple of versions of croquette's first appearance. Pretty much, they are all related to French chefs.

One of those stories says that croquettes' history is in relation to the famous French chef and culinary writer Georges Auguste Escoffier, who is considered the founder of traditional French cuisine.

In 1898, Escoffier, alongside Philias Gilbert, who helped him, wrote down the recipe for croquettes. Over time, every single chef that worked with Escoffier started to travel around the world, and they always carried his recipe with them.

A different story is related to the French chef Antonin Carême. Chef Carême is supposed to have introduced the croquettes in the middle 18th or early 19th century.

He served them to the noble kitchens and he named them "croquettes à la royale".

However, some claim that in the 17th century, François Massialot introduced the recipe with eggs, meat, marrow, truffles, cheese, rolled in bread crumbs, and then fried in lard.

Modern croquettes are mentioned in the English cookbook published in 1822 by the, again, French cook Louis-Eustache Ude.

Maybe it doesn't matter that much who actually invented croquettes, as long as we can enjoy this delicious treat today.

Arancini

Croquettes are the product of French cuisine. On the other hand, arancini are the product of Italian cuisine. So, what is the connection between the two?

Well, arancini are simply rice croquettes with an Italian "final touch". The main ingredient is rice made into a ball with the center filled with a savory mixture, which is rolled into bread crumbs and then deep-fried.

It has its origins on the island of Sicily and they go way back to the 10th century. They mix the rice with ragù sauce, cheese (often mozzarella or caciocavallo), peas, ham, béchamel sauce, etc.

"Arancia" basically means small orange or a little orange because the shape and color resemble an orange. But, when it comes to the shape, usually in western Sicily arancini are made in round shape.

While in the eastern part of the island arancini is made into a cone shape.

There are lots of variations like arancini al ragù (tomato sauce, meat, mozzarella, and rice), arancini al burro (with béchamel sauce or butter, often in the shape of a pear), arancini con funghi (with mushrooms), arancini con pistacchi (with pistachios), arancini con melanzane (with eggplant), etc.

When it comes to the name, there are different opinions between the two cities in Sicily - Catania and Palermo.

Palermo folks think that the dish is feminine, so they call it "arancia" and "arancine" in the plural. While in Catania, they think that the dish is masculine and they call it "arancio" with the plural "arancini".

But, if there's one thing these two cities agree on, that is that the dish is strongly linked to the city of Rome. People in both of these cities will tell you that "the Romans stole rice balls from Sicily".

Italian Grana Padano cheese

Grana Padano is cheese made in northern Italy.

It is a hard cheese, easily crumbled, made with semi-skimmed, unpasteurized cow's milk with an aging time from 9 to 20 months.

Grana Padano has three stages of ripening: 9 to 16 months (still creamy, a little bit of grainy), over 16 months (a bit crumblier), and over 20 months (crumbly, grainy, with the full flavor).

After 9 months of aging, each wheel of Grana Padano goes through the inspection of quality.

If it is satisfying, the Grana Padano logo is fire-branded on each wheel of cheese.

It has no preservatives or additives, it is unpasteurized and gluten-free.

"Grana" is the Italian term for cheese, which means grainy. These hard cheeses have a granular texture, ideal for grating.

They are often made into large wheels and then split for use. There are two grana-type kinds of cheese that are widely known. Usually, they are made from cow's milk. And cows are eating only cereals and grass (antibiotics are not allowed). Those are Parmigiano-Reggiano (or Parmesan) and Grana Padano.

Difference between Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano

They are similar, both are grainy, with crystalline texture. And both are made into wheels cut with a triangular knife just for that purpose. But there are differences between these two types of cheeses.

  • Grana Padano has a higher production rate - up to 5 million wheels are produced each year, compared to three and a half million of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Slightly different taste - due to the cows that produce the milk. They are walking on different soil and different pastures. Also, the age of the cheese can significantly influence the taste.
  • The Parmigiano-Reggiano cows are milked twice a day - in the morning and in the evening, with temperatures higher than 18°C. Temperature can't drop under that value. The milk is delivered to the dairy in less than two hours from milking. Additionally, cows do not eat silage. When it comes to Grana Padano cows, they are also milked two times a day, but the milk is delivered within 24 hours after milking and it has to be cooled. But even if it has to be cooled, the temperature should not drop below 8°C.
  • Grana Padano cheese has a lower fat content because it is made from semi-skimmed milk.
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano matures slower - it takes a minimum of 12 months to mature, whereas Grana Padano takes a minimum of nine months to mature. Some varieties of Parmigiano-Reggiano can take up to 36 months to mature. There is an interesting story about the producers of this cheese. They sometimes have trouble with their cash flow because the cheese takes too long to mature. So, they sometimes give the wheels of cheese as collateral.

rice croquettes

Yields1 Serving

Ingredients for Rice Croquettes
 2 ½ cups Rice - long-grain, cooked
 ¾ cup Grana Padano Cheese - grated
 2 Beaten Eggs
  cup Flour - gluten-free, all-purpose
 2 Garlic Cloves - finely chopped
 Fresh Chiffonade Basil
 Salt
 Pepper
 Oil

1

Rice croquettes are easy and fast to make, even though the name might sound complicated, especially if you are new to cooking.

All you have to do is mix all the ingredients, make small patties, and fry them.

In my recipe, I used cooked long-grain rice with delicious Grana Padano Italian cheese.

To add aroma, I used garlic, basil, salt, and pepper.

Then, to connect all the ingredients together, you can use beaten eggs, and in order to adjust the texture of the mixture, just add the flour.

The mixture should be thick enough to hold the rice together. You should be able to shape the patties easily.

This dish can be a great side dish, a snack, an appetizer, or a whole meal if you eat them on their own.

rice croquettes

Mix all the ingredients
2

First, you should mix all the ingredients very well. Take a medium bowl, add all the ingredients, and mix together. Rice should stick together nicely. If the mixture is too wet, add more flour.

rice balls

Fry the croquettes
3

1. Firstly, pour oil into a non-stick frying pan and let it warm enough to begin the frying
2. Secondly, while the oil is warming up, form patties from the rice mixture into a round shape
3. Make sure the oil is hot and gently place the croquettes into the oil. Do not touch them until they are nicely browned. Then flip them on the other side until the other side is nicely browned, too
4. Lastly, take them out of the oil and place them on the paper towels on the plate, so the towels can absorb the excess oil

Serve the dish and enjoy!

rice croquettes

 

Ingredients

Ingredients for Rice Croquettes
 2 ½ cups Rice - long-grain, cooked
 ¾ cup Grana Padano Cheese - grated
 2 Beaten Eggs
  cup Flour - gluten-free, all-purpose
 2 Garlic Cloves - finely chopped
 Fresh Chiffonade Basil
 Salt
 Pepper
 Oil

Directions

1

Rice croquettes are easy and fast to make, even though the name might sound complicated, especially if you are new to cooking.

All you have to do is mix all the ingredients, make small patties, and fry them.

In my recipe, I used cooked long-grain rice with delicious Grana Padano Italian cheese.

To add aroma, I used garlic, basil, salt, and pepper.

Then, to connect all the ingredients together, you can use beaten eggs, and in order to adjust the texture of the mixture, just add the flour.

The mixture should be thick enough to hold the rice together. You should be able to shape the patties easily.

This dish can be a great side dish, a snack, an appetizer, or a whole meal if you eat them on their own.

rice croquettes

Mix all the ingredients
2

First, you should mix all the ingredients very well. Take a medium bowl, add all the ingredients, and mix together. Rice should stick together nicely. If the mixture is too wet, add more flour.

rice balls

Fry the croquettes
3

1. Firstly, pour oil into a non-stick frying pan and let it warm enough to begin the frying
2. Secondly, while the oil is warming up, form patties from the rice mixture into a round shape
3. Make sure the oil is hot and gently place the croquettes into the oil. Do not touch them until they are nicely browned. Then flip them on the other side until the other side is nicely browned, too
4. Lastly, take them out of the oil and place them on the paper towels on the plate, so the towels can absorb the excess oil

Serve the dish and enjoy!

rice croquettes

Italian Grana Padano Rice Croquettes
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