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Makes 24 croquettes to serve 8
3 cups chicken stock2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil1 small yellow onion, minced1 1/2 cups Italian arborio rice1/2 cup homemade tomato sauce2/3 cup grated Parmigiano, caciocavallo or pecorino cheese1 egg yolk, beatenSalt and freshly ground black pepper3-ounce slice ham, cut into 1/8-inch dice1/2 cup peas, boiled in water 10 seconds4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch diceDeep frying oilFlour3 eggs, beaten2 cups medium grind dry bread crumbs
Bring the chicken stock and 1 cup water to a boil in a saucepan on the back burner of the stove. Reduce and simmer very slowly.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 7 minutes. Add the rice and continue to stir over medium heat until the outside edge of each grain of rice is transparent and there is a tiny white dot in the interior of each grain, 3 to 4 minutes. Add a ladle of stock, about 1/2 cup, and stir the rice to wipe it away from the bottom and sides of the pan. When the first addition of stock has been absorbed, add another ladleful of stock and continue to stir. Keep the grains moist at all times. Continue to add stock and stir constantly until the rice is tender. If you run out of broth, add hot water, so that the risotto is always creamy and loose.
The risotto is done in 18 to 22 minutes, when it is firm but tender, without a chalky center. Continue to cook, stirring, until the stock is absorbed and it is dry. Remove from the heat and add the tomato sauce and Parmigiano Reggiano and mix well. Cool completely. Add the egg yolk and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
In a bowl, combine the ham, peas and diced mozzarella. There are 2 ways to form the croquettes: (1) Pat 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture to cover the palm of one hand and place 1 tablespoon of the peas, ham and mozzarella mixture in the center. Gently close your hand to envelope the filling. Using both hands, shape the mass into an oval about the size and shape of a large egg. Place the croquettes on a cookie sheet and continue until you have used up all the ingredients. (2) The alternate method is to scoop about 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture into a small ice cream scoop. Push 2 fingers into the mixture to make a small opening and put 1 tablespoon of the filling in the hole. Close the hole and finish shaping it by hand.
Heat 3 inches of oil in a deep heavy saucepan to 375o F. Roll the croquettes in the beaten egg, then roll them in the bread crumbs. Set on a cookie sheet or waxed paper.
Deep-fry the croquettes in oil, a few at a time, until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
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