This post may contain affiliate links, which means that as an Amazon Associate I receive a profit from eligible purchases. There is no additional cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.
Suppli al Telefono is a recipe that for each Roman has something of ancestral: a dip fried rice ball in meat sauce, wrapped in a crunchy and unmistakable breading, with a rich filling of stringy mozzarella.
The Italian Street Food that you cannot miss when in Rome!
For me, that I was born and raised in Rome, Supplì (yes, we use to write it with “ì”) is definitely “a way of life” and I can say that is almost imprinted in my DNA. It is something essential, to eat even on the fly when I need something to cheer me up!
Supplì are the Roman version of the Sicilian most famous Arancini. The origins of this food are ancient and the first written record of supplì was found on the menu of Rome’s Trattoria della Lepre from 1874.
This classic Roman snack hails from the Italian cucina povera, which literally means “traditional peasant cuisine”. In the past, poor women avoid wasting food so they invented supplì as fast food to use up the leftover rice from risotto and the giblets meat.
Legend has it that the name Supplì derives from the French word “surprise”, because only by biting the crunchy breading you can discover the heart of stringy mozzarella.
In Rome, supplì is also called “al Telefono” because once opened halfway the hot stringy mozzarella creates a cord similar to the telephone cable, that goes from side to side.
Supplì is such a true cult food for Romans that there are places entirely dedicated to this extraordinary deliciousness. For those who are planning to travel to Rome and want to experience true joy, I leave you here a couple of addresses where you can taste the best supplì in the Capital:
SUPPLIZIO – Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 143 o Via di S. Francesco a Ripa, 1
LA CASA DEL SUPPLI’ – Piazza Re di Roma, 20
PIZZERIA AI MARMI – Viale Trastevere, 53
But now, let’s see how to make excellent homemade Suppli al Telefono Recipe.
Preparing Suppli is not difficult and can be done easily even at home, it just requires a little patience and time, and require to choose the perfect ingredients.
First of all the Rice, which must be compact: my favorites are the Carnaroli or Vialone Nano ones.
For the filling, there are different schools of thought:
- The Classic and Original one is based on a ragù (or Bolognese) sauce with a lot of Parmesan cheese. You’ll find here my complete recipe for Bolognese Sauce.
- The Enriched Version – that is the recipe I propose today – that add chicken livers and mushrooms to the meat sauce. In this way, the rice balls will have a more intense and decisive taste.
- The Vegetarian and Vegan Version of supplì, instead, is made with a simple tomato and basil sauce enriched with Parmigiano cheese.
About the breading: the breading of the supplì is usually prepared using the waste dry bread coarsely grated at home, but you can easily use bought breadcrumbs ready or – for a gluten-free alternative – replace it with corn breading.
As for the frying, I recommend using peanuts oil, at a frying temperature of about 170/180 Celsius degrees (338/356° F). The result is light and dry!
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a perfect alternative to make crispy frying with almost 0 oil, you can alternatively use an Air Fryer. In this way you will almost completely eliminate the fats, preserving the crunchiness. Using the air-fryer insert no more than 4 Supplì at a time in the basket of the air fryer, spray or mist them with peanut oil and cook them at 200 °C (392°F) for eight minutes, turning them halfway through cooking.
If you want to see the preparation of our Supplì al Telefono, I’ve realized an Instagram Story explaining step by step the recipe, find it here!!
FOR THE SUPPLI'
- 500 g rice
- 220 g minced meat (pork and beef)
- 50 g chicken livers
- 50 g mushrooms
- 1 egg
- 500 ml. tomato sauce
- ½ onion
- 80 g parmesan cheese
- 100 g mozzarella
- 1 lt. Broth
- 80 g butter
- 3 sp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- ½ glass of white wine
- 8-10 basil leaves
- 2 eggs
- 100 g breadcrumbs
- 1 pinch of salt
- 50 g. flour (optional)
- 500 ml. peanuts oil to fry
- In a large pan pour 3 tablespoons of oil and fry the chopped onion.
- When the onion begins to brown add the minced meat and, if you like, the chopped chicken livers.
- After about 4 minutes, pour in the wine and let it evaporate for a few minutes.
- Then pour in the tomato sauce, lower the heat, and let it cook for at least 30 minutes.
- Remember to mix the sauce several times during cooking and season with 2 pinches of salt and 1 pinch of black pepper.
- Separately, cut the mushrooms into very small pieces and sauté them for about 4 minutes in a pan with oil. Then drain the excess oil and add to the sauce.
- In another pot, while the sauce is cooking, prepare a vegetable broth (see the recipe here).
- Pour the rice directly into the sauce and start cooking the rice as if to prepare a risotto. Then add 2 ladles of broth at a time and stir the rice until it is absorbed. Repeat this process until the rice is cooked “al dente”.
- When rice is cooked, turn off the heat, add 1 raw egg, basil leaves, grated Parmesan cheese and a knob of butter. Mix well and leave the rice to rest and cool.
- Cut the mozzarella into cubes.
- When the rice becomes cold (not before) begin to form the rice balls.
- Put the breadcrumbs on a plate. In another bowl beat the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Take a spoonful of rice and place it on the palm of your hand. Squeeze lightly and insert a mozzarella cube in the center. Then close your hand and make the rice cover all the mozzarella in the shape of an elongated meatball.
- Repeat for all the rice.
- Now coat the rice balls of breading: first, soak each naked rice ball (one at a time) in the beaten egg, then pass it in breadcrumbs making it adhere well to the surface.
- Put a tall, narrow saucepan with the peanuts oil on the heat and bring it to frying temperature.
- Pour the supplì – no more than two at the time - into the oil and fry each ball for 6 minutes (It is important that oil cover the entire ball).
- After this time, you will see the breading darkened, so drain the supplì and place it in a tray lined with absorbent paper to remove excess oil.
- Enjoy your supplì when they are still hot and you will feel what a taste!
If you use the dried mushrooms, just soften them into the broth, grind them and pour them in the sauce.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 528Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 718mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 22g
Nutrition Data is automatically calculated and may be not accurate.
I hope you’ve loved this recipe as much as I do!