After making a risotto with saffron last week, I had enough leftover for another meal for two. I could have reheated it slowly, but I thought I would look for other options. Most cookbooks and internet sites suggested making a southern Italian favorite, arancini, or rice balls stuffed with mozzarella, breaded, and deep fried. Twenty years ago, this would have been my choice. But having just turned 70, I thought I would look for a more healthful alternative.
As I searched the internet, I began to see recipes for risotto pancakes, but many of these were similar to the arancini, that is stuffed with cheese and breaded, except they were flattened. Eventually, however, I came across a recipe on SeriousEats.com for a crispy rice pancake, risotto al salto, that involved less fat and neither bread nor stuffing with cheese. Although it suggested serving the cake with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, I thought my risotto already had sufficient cheese for our liking.
The recipe also provided instructions for flipping the cake with two oiled plates, which I thought to be a more involved than using a thin border-less pizza tin. But if you din’t have a similar tin, you may want to try the recipe’s dual-plate method.
I’m happy to report that the result exceeded my expectations. The pancake was perfectly crisp, thoroughly warmed though, and the rice still had a nice texture.
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups leftover risotto, such as risotto alla Milanese, fully cooled
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, for serving (I skipped the cheese.)
1. Lightly grease two flat 10- or 11-inch plates (you can use any oil for this, or even some extra butter). In a well-seasoned 10-inch carbon steel skillet or a 10-inch nonstick skillet, melt butter over high heat until foaming. Add rice and, using a spatula, pat it down to form a round pancake shape.
2. Continue cooking over high heat, patting the top and sides to form a compact, pancake-like round, and swirling to keep the pancake moving and to avoid hot-spots (it should not stick), until very well browned on on the first side (you can tell it’s ready when you see that it has browned around the edges). If the pancake comes apart as you swirl and jiggle it, simply use the spatula to press it back together.
3. Carefully slide the pancake out onto one of the prepared plates, then invert the other prepared plate on top of it. In one very quick motion, flip the plates, then lift off the top plate. Very carefully slide the pancake back into the skillet; using the spatula to patch up any spots that were damaged during the flip. Continue cooking, swirling, jiggling, and patting with the spatula, until well browned on the second side.
4. Carefully slide the pancake out onto a warmed serving plate and grate the cheese all over. Serve right away.
Wine Pairing: Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc