A recipe for supplì cacio e pepe, the Roman street food that I talk about in my most recent podcast, to allow you to bring Rome to your home.
Supplì are the archetypal Roman street food, dating back until the early 19th century. After a brief fall from grace towards the end of the last century, supplì are now back centre stage and can be found everywhere in Rome. They grace the counters of bars, rosticcerie, pizza slice joints, and can be found as appetizers in trattorias and pizzerias as well as in posh restaurants. For more information, listen to my podcast on the subject, which includes an interview with Arcangelo Dandini who was one of the chefs at the forefront of the supplì revival.
As Arcangelo Dandini explains to me in the podcast, supplì start life as risotto which, if well made, will contain enough starch to hold the rice together in balls once the risotto has cooled. The classic supplì is made with chicken giblets and tomato and has a piece of mozzarella cheese at the centre. Other flavours have developed however, including supplì mimicking the three famous Roman pasta dishes of amatriciana, carbonara, and cacio e pepe.
In the recipe below, I have attempted to recreate a cacio e pepe supplì, based on hints and tips from my friend Fabio, a Romano DOC who runs a restaurant that serves excellent supplì, and Arcangelo Dandini. It starts off with risotto flavoured with pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper, which once cooled is formed into oval shapes, and deep-fried in breadcrumbs.
You need to use a variety of Italian superfine rice—arborio, baldo, carnaroli, roma, or volano—for the risotto, otherwise the rice won’t stick together. I used a high-quality Piemontese carnaroli rice from Gli Aironi, who supply rice to Jamie Oliver no less. Supplì work best with slightly rough breadcrumbs made from stale bread. You can make these at home easily by whizzing pieces of stale or toasted bread in a mixer. The harder the bread at the beginning the better the result.
Supplì can be eaten either as aperitivo snacks, as starters to a meal of pasta or pizza, or cold as picnic snacks. They go really well with a nice glass of red wine. Buon appetito!