mexican rice balls (with a spicy tomato sauce!)

This dish isn’t for the faint of heart.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s an excellent use of leftover rice, especially if you felt the need to make six cups of Mexican rice for a total of four people, and then have five cups of rice leftover because you made way too much food.

Not that that’s ever happened. And not that that’s a bad thing.

This dish is a pain to put together. If you’re a rice ball aficionado, then I’m sure you’ll have no problem. But if you’re like me, and don’t have years of rice-ball-rolling experience under your belt, prepare for things to get a little messy. Between the rice (which flat refused to mold), the flour (which I wound up working into the balls as I tried to reform the balls after coating them in flour), the egg (which attempted to disintegrate the rice balls), the panko flakes (which I had to press into the sides of the balls), and the huge mess on my counters, I almost threw in the towel on this meal several times. But I persevered, and you should too.

Mexican Rice Balls
Loosely adapted from
Makes appx. 10 rice balls 

You will need:
3 cups cooked Mexican rice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 eggs, divided and beaten lightly
Flour, for coating
Panko flakes, for coating
Vegetable oil, for frying

Mix the rice, cheese, and two of the eggs in a large bowl. Using a 1/3 measuring cup, mold the rice (to the best of your ability) into a ball.

Coat the ball in flour, then dip it in the other two beaten eggs, then coat it in panko flakes. Set on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. If it looks a little weird, or starts to fall apart, don’t despair. Just put it together as best you can, and do the next one. Continue until your rice is gone.

Put the sheet of rice balls into the freezer, and heat 2 inches of oil in a saucepan. When the oil is hot, take the rice balls out of the freezer and fry them in batches, turning once. The balls will need about 2-3 minutes, total. Drain on a tray lined with paper towels. Serve immediately, with Mexican-Style Tomato Sauce.

Mexican-Style Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

You will need:
1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1/4 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 fresh jalapeño, or several slices of pickled jalapeños
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Warm thoroughly in a saucepan, and serve with Mexican rice balls!


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