Posted by: Erica Retrochef | April 18, 2011

Rice and Cheese Balls

I’m not terribly good at frying, and it’s also not a terribly healthy cooking method, so we almost never fry things at home. I always secretly wanted to make delicious fried chicken, but have never had the guts to try it — and I’ve never needed to hone my own skills since fried chicken (ranging from “meh” to “wow”) is available on almost every street corner here in South Carolina.

But when I saw this old ad, it was pretty tempting to try, just to see if maybe it’s my choice of cooking grease that’s the problem. DIGESTIBLE sure sounds promising… right?


(Yield: 4 Servings)

Here’s a thrifty supper dish that’s luscious and easy to fix. Just use Crisco’s “Tender-Crisp” frying guide (given below) and be sure of fried foods as digestible as they are delicious!

1 tablespoon Crisco
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces cheese (1 cup)
1/2 cup milk
2 cups cooked rice
1 egg (beaten)
1/2 cup dry crumbs
Crisco for frying

All Measurements Level: Melt 1 tablespoon Crisco. Blend with flour and salt. Stir in milk and cook until mixture thickens. Add cheese broken into pieces. Cook over low heat until smooth. Add rice. Chill thoroughly. Shape into balls and dip in beaten egg and roll in fine dry crumbs. Fry in Crisco, following Crisco’s frying guide below, until nicely browned all over. Serve with vegetable or tomato sauce.

It’s a pretty dull looking set of ingredients

I love making a roux (although I generally prefer butter); it makes an amazing creamy sauce, and is not hard at all.

If you know how to stir and pour things, you can master a roux.

I’ll admit it takes practice, but it’s really worth it — so many things taste better with a nice smooth cheese sauce over top.

I think this is going to be a good stand-by recipe for last-minute side dishes.

Ten minutes to make dinner? We’re having rice in cheese sauce.

After cooling, the sauce was sticky enough that they formed cohesive balls easily.

Roll around in some egg and bread crumbs. Whee…

And voilà! Ready to go into the hot Crisco for some digestible frying!

Unfortunately, frying is hard. The cheese balls looked really great for a few minutes, and the Crisco was nice and clear.

But when I tried to turn them a second time, some of them stuck and the coating peeled off and rice and cheese leaked into the oil. It started to get dark, and for some reason it also got suds on top.

With a lot of attention, we managed to keep some of the cheese balls intact; however, two-thirds lost at least part of their skin.

The oil looked really scary after everything was finished.

The cheese balls, on the other hand, looked pretty awesome! Mostly!

We didn’t have peas, so, well, they’re served on some broccoli. Look at that lovely glistening cheese ball crust, doesn’t it just scream digestible?

These were yummy; even my mediocre frying technique couldn’t destroy the delicious inside. Like most cheese sauces, this really did need to be served warm, though. Once they had cooled off and sat on the table through the whole meal, they were more chewy and less appealing. (If you want to try this, don’t save leftovers, it just gets more congealed and unfortunate as time passes.)

I’m still a little skeeved out by the Crisco, though. It formed foamy suds while frying, which was odd. And I can’t vouch for its “digestibility.” It was as greasy as most fried cheese I’ve ever eaten. Both Buzz and I felt slightly icky afterwards, although I can’t necessarily blame that on the Crisco; it might just have been the large quantity of rice and cheese!

Found, appropriately, in the “kitschen” group on Flickr, uploaded by girlcalledheaven



  1. I was cracking jokes about the Crisco being “digestible” all throughout the selection and preparation of this dish. As in, “What’s the alternative to ‘digestible’ oil? Were there a lot of people frying their foods in heavy, sour, West Texas crude?” To be fair, however, people who might be overpowered by 1/4 teaspoon of paprika in their goulash might also get heartburn from anything with a coating of deep-fried breading.

  2. Crisco is a vegetable-based lard. It was basically designed to be a cheaper, potentially-healthier alternative for lard in cooking (deep frying, coating baking dishes, etc), and was sometimes also used as a substitute for butter. Less successfully, IMHO, because butter is, well, butter. :->

    Nowadays we know that unsaturated fats (liquid fats) are better for you than saturated (solid) ones, and that trans fats (what happens when you turn liquid vegetable fats into solid ones) are the worst for you of ALL, but back when they invented Crisco they had a sense that something plant-based out of a factory was likely better for you than the potentially-dodgy output of the day’s slaughterhouses. Also, when you do deep frying and such with animal-source saturated fats you can get some really unappetizing colors/smells/tastes out of the fat after you’ve used it, so that led to people thinking it was unhealthy, too.

    Crisco is basically canola oil, only chemically solid-ed.

    • I’m definitely a fan of bacon grease or, more usually, butter (although I generally sauté rather than “fry”) for flavor reasons, as well as the trans fat issue. Crisco is more or less never used in my house except for the very occasional retro recipe 😀

      I am currently looking for a source of schmaltz (chicken fat) for a few other recipes I have, stay tuned!

      • If you roast a whole chicken, line the roasting pan with foil (seems to prevent some of the carbonization you get otherwise), then pour off the liquid and let stand in a tall container in the fridge. You can crack off a nice thick layer of schmaltz that way … plus, hey, bonus roast chicken. :->

        We really, really like using schmaltz to make cornbread with. For the recipe we use (which says ‘1/2 cup of oil or melted lard’), butter works quite nicely, vegetable oil is utterly bland and way too crumbly, but schmaltz makes the most meltingly awesome (and faintly chickeny) cornbread I’ve tasted. Bacon fat and pork drippings didn’t work nearly as well, for some reason.

  3. These are basically arancini (Italian rice dumplings), which I had in a restaurant and they were all kinds of divine! These sound delectable and I just salivated all over my keyboard

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