A tasty treat from leftover risotto!

Anyone who has cooked or eaten risotto knows it firms up pretty quickly, so anything left in the pot after you've indulged may seem less than appealing.  Do not throw this away!  It's the basis for a real tasty treat - risotto cakes.

Risotto cakes are similar to "arancini" (Italian for little oranges), which are stuffed and fried balls of risotto - but they are easier and less time-consuming to prepare.  A risotto cake is essentially a small cake made of formed leftover risotto that is covered in bread crumbs and deep-fried.  It is made to be eaten in a few bites as either a side (it accompanies well with meat or chicken) or a smaller portion of one or two-bite sizes - ideal for a cocktail party. 

The particular leftover risotto that you are using should lend itself to cake-forming.  Use your judgement and try to envision how the resulting risotto would be in cake form.  For example, the ingredients within it (e.g. mushrooms, asparagus etc.) should not be too big, otherwise the cakes will not hold together.

So here are the steps involved in making risotto cakes:

  1. Cool off the leftover risotto and chill it in the fridge; the more chilled and stiff the easier it is to form (you can flatten it out on a bake sheet for faster chilling)
  2. In the meantime prepare a breading station with a bowl for each of the following:     a) flour, b) whisked egg that is thinned slightly with milk, and c) unflavoured slightly coarse breadcrumbs (panko crumbs work great if you can find them)
  3. Work the desired amount of risotto in your hands so that it stays together and there are no air spaces (the easiest way is to form a ball and slightly flatten it).  For size consistency you can use an ice cream scoop.
  4. Once all cakes are formed they are ready for breading.  Take each cake gently through the breading station: a) dredge in flour, shaking off the excess, b) cover in the egg mixture, draining off the excess, and c) cover fully with breadcrumbs.  Set aside.

They are now ready for frying on medium to high heat (too low a temperature will make them greasy).  A deep fryer works best but if you don't have one you can pan fry them in oil and flip them (olive oil or canola, or a combination, works fine).  If the cakes are thick, finish them in a pre-heated oven at about 350 to 400 degrees farenheit, otherwise the outside will brown too much as the inside is waiting to cook through. 

The goal is to have crispy, golden brown cakes with a hot, rich, risotto centre.

Important warning - addictive!