What are risotto cakes?

Pumpkin is sometimes used in risotto cakes.

Basic risotto cakes consist of bunches in the shape of a risotto patty, a creamy dish made from rice, wine, broth, butter and cheese, which have been breaded and deep-fried. Risotto cakes are often made from leftover risotto, making the rather labor-intensive process of making it worthwhile in the eyes of some cooks. Variations on the basic risotto cake recipe may require the inclusion of meats, cheeses, fresh herbs or vegetables. These cakes are an adaptation of the popular Italian dish of fried risotto called arancini.

Breadcrumbs are used to coat risotto cakes before frying.

The most basic risotto cakes are quite simple both in their content and in their method of preparation. To make them, a bunch of risotto is made into a small hamburger and covered with breadcrumbs. It is then fried in oil for approximately five minutes and consumed.

The possible variations of the basic risotto cake recipe are more or less limited only by the imagination of the cook. Some popular versions include meat, such as ground beef or ham, or seafood, such as shrimp or tuna. Many cooks add cheese to the risotto mixture, the breading, or both. It is also common to add fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary or parsley to risotto cakes. Some cooks choose to incorporate vegetables like asparagus, chives, or squash into their cakes.

Risotto cakes are made from leftover risotto.

Often, risotto cakes are prepared not with a new batch of risotto, but with risotto left over from a previous meal. The preparation of the risotto itself is seen by many as a rather labor-intensive process, which involves adding ladles of broth in stages, as well as almost constant stirring. Using leftover risotto to make cakes allows cooks to enjoy the fruits of their labor in two meals instead of just one.

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Risotto cakes are an adaptation of the popular Italian dish called arancini. These breaded fried risotto bunches, which are especially common in Sicily, are usually round rather than patty-shaped. In fact, the word arancini translates to “little oranges,” a reference to the round shape of the curls, as well as the orange hue of their fried topping. Along with leftover freshly prepared risotto, arancini often contains tomato sauce, peas and cheese.

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