Three-Cheese Suppli al Telefono


I wasn’t quite sure what to name this dish.

After making my three-cheese risotto, I ended up with several servings of left-over, cold risotto.  Cold risotto, it turns out, is perfect for making fried risotto balls, alternately known as suppli or arancini.

Suppli is short for “Suppli al Telefono,” which translates as “telephone wires.”  Traditional suppli is fried risotto that has been stuffed with mozzarella cheese.  The idea, of course, is that biting into a good suppli produces a low-hanging mozzarella string, reminiscent of telephone wires.


Arancini is Italian for “little orange,” because deep-frying the rice, saffron, and bread crumbs produces an appetizer with a golden-orange hue.  According to Alberto Denti di Pirajno, the famous Sicilian gastronome, the dish owes its origins to an Arabic dish, naranjiyya.  Naranjiyya appeared in the Baghdad Cookery Book, a work dating back to the 13th Century, and describes a fried ball of meat, meant to look like an orange through the use of saffron and egg.  Naranj is the Arabic word for orange.

The differences between Suppli and Arancini are subtle.  By some accounts, Arancini is larger than Suppli, and can include mushrooms, peas, and meat, while Suppli is often limited to mozzarella and tomato.  The principle distinction, however, seems to be geographic – with Suppli hailing from Rome, and Arancini from Sicily.

But no matter what you decide to call them, you can always call them delicious!

Three-Cheese Suppli al Telefono

Recipe inspired by thoughts from Caitlin.

PREP TIME: Requires chilled risotto
COOK TIME: 20 minutes
YIELD: 10 to 12 balls

3 cups chilled three-cheese risotto (recipe here)
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon warm water
2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup bread crumbs (recipe here)
12 cubes of mozzarella (optional)
1 cup chopped mushrooms (optional)



1.  Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat, to about 360-370 degrees.  You want to have enough oil to cover the balls completely, about 2-inches high, so a smaller pot will require less oil.

2.  Roll chilled risotto into small balls, about 1- to 1 1/2-inches thick.  If you are adding mozzarella or mushrooms, poke a small hole in the center of each ball and insert the cheese and/or mushrooms.  Then re-form the mixture into a ball.

3.  Put the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in three separate bowls.  Dredge the ball in flour, dip in egg, and then roll in the bread crumbs, making sure the ball is well-coated at each step.  Keep the balls on parchment paper while waiting to fry them.

4.  Working in batches of four, fry the balls for about 3 minutes, or until a nice golden brown.  With a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel to drain.  Serve warm!



If you need to cool the risotto in a hurry, you can spread the cooked risotto out on a baking sheet.  The greater surface area will expedite the cooling process.  For a healthier choice, you can also bake the risotto balls.  For the baking option, bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, and then broil, rotating the balls after 3o or 60 seconds to ensure even browning.


3 responses to “Three-Cheese Suppli al Telefono

  1. I made two different kinds of risotto in the past week, and both times I’ve been hoping to have leftovers so that I can make this dish. Unfortunately, my risottos were so good that there were no leftovers. I guess I just have to make risotto another time.

  2. Based upon the updated title of this post, I’ll venture to guess that suppli prevailed in the polls — I support that outcome!

    Given that several folks from the L.Rev potluck requested my recipe, this post is actually very convenient for me. Rather than write it myself, I’ll simply refer them to my favorite judicial peach!

  3. Yum risotto balls. Irresistible.

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