We made risotto cakes with the leftover risotto from the night before, but getting to try these was actually half the reason I wanted to make risotto in the first place. They’re creamy, warm cakes of risotto stuffed with a little bubbly cheese in the middle. Just one is filling enough for a supper, and in the true spirit of leftovers, there wasn’t a whole lot of prep work or clean-up.
I used Fontina cheese in the center of each risotto cake. Fontina melts wonderfully, so by the time the risotto itself heats through, you can be sure you have a warm, creamy, melted center of cheese. It is a mild cow’s milk cheese made in the Italian Alps. We bought old Fontina, which has a more earthy, aged flavor, but young Fontina, with a grassier flavor, would work well, too. Making risotto cakes from leftover risotto will work well with a wide variety of risottos, but don’t try it with a style with large pieces of other food — a risotto dotted with chunks of seafood or asparagus, for example, will cook unevenly and burn.
- About 2 cups of leftover, cooled risotto
- 1/2 cup Fontina cheese, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup grated finely Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups breadcrumbs or panko
- About 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil, for frying
- Basil, as garnish
1. Using a 1/2-cup measuring spoon, scoop a portion of the leftover risotto and turn it out into your hands. Shape into a ball and make a deep indentation with your thumbs. Fill the indentation with the cheese cubes, about 1-2 teaspoons cheese. Using your palms, return the risotto into a ball shape, sealing the indentation, keeping the cheese in the center. Flatten the ball into a disc, between 1/2-inch and 1-inch thick. Press firmly to be sure the cheese remains sealed inside and the risotto sticks together. Repeat this procedure 4 times, forming 4 disc-shaped risotto cakes.
2. Crack the egg into a shallow bowl or plate with a steep lip (like a pasta bowl). In a separate shallow bowl, mix the Parmesan and bread crumbs together.
3. Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet and heat over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Working one risotto cake at a time, but moving quickly, dip the risotto cakes into the egg, then transfer to the bread crumb bowl and coat thoroughly. Transfer the coated risotto cake to the skillet with the heated oil, and cook until crisp, about 3 minutes on each side. Flip the cakes gently and carefully using a large spatula.
4. After both sides are nicely browned and crispy, remove each patty and let it drain on a plate covered with a paper towel. Serve topped with basil.