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Top Chef, cookbook author and mom Antonia Lofaso shares her recipe for creamy, crunchy oversized rice balls stuffed with meat sauce — a popular menu item at her Italian restaurant Scopa (one of her three LA-based spots).
Serve with homemade marinara or your favorite store-bought tomato sauce.
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 carrots, small dice
- 2 stalks celery, small dice
- ½ onion, small dice
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cups red wine
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 bunch fresh rosemary
- 1 ½ cups fresh peas
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- Salt, to taste
- 3 cups grated locatelli, pecorino or parmesan cheese
- 1 egg plus 2 egg whites, beaten
- 2 cups ground panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup finely ground parmesan cheese
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 2 cups Meat Sauce
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving
- Chopped fresh parsley, for serving
- Marinara sauce, for serving
For the meat sauce, heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Remove the ground beef to a plate with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the carrots, celery, onion and tomato paste to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef back along with the red wine and cook for 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock and rosemary, bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is reduced, about 45 minutes. Fold in the peas. Remove the rosemary before serving or stuffing into the rice balls.
For the rice balls, in a pot, combine the rice, 3½ cups water, and salt, bring to a simmer and cover. Cook the rice until water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.
Spread the cooked rice into a thin layer to cool slightly, then gently mix in the eggs and cheese to coat thoroughly.
In a large bowl, combine the panko, parmesan cheese, and parsley. Spread on a baking sheet.
To build the rice ball, take a handful of the rice mixture, then form a well and spoon in some meat sauce to fill the well. Add a generous spoonful each ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Take another handful of the rice mixture, then place on top of the filled rice mixture and shape into a ball. Roll the ball in the panko mixture to coat. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Preheat a deep-fryer to 350˚F. In batches, add the rice balls and cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Top with grated parmesan and chopped parsley. Serve with marinara sauce.