Italian Mozzarella Rice — This dish is very, very good. I had never heard of it. Not from any of my Italian family and friends. Nor did I ever encounter it in my brief visits to Naples and Rome. But, I have this real good book of Italian recipes called Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. She is from Italy and very good and down to earth in her instructions. Plus, she gives a brief history of the all the different dishes. This was kind of a tag at the end of the chapter on Risotto. She tells how to make the basic recipe with some shredded fresh basil leaves as the only addition. It’s become a regular with us and once you treat yourself and your gang to it I’ll bet that it starts showing up at your house too.
Cut the butter in to pats and spread it out so that it can get to room temperature quicker. Shred the mozzarella on the largest holes of the grater or just have some of that pre shredded stuff on hand or cut up the mozzarella into very small pieces.
Start the water in a sauce pan at high. When it starts to boil add the salt. Add the rice and immediately stir it for about 8-10 seconds. Cover the pot and lower the heat to a slow but constant boil. Cook it until the rice is al dente, sort of soft on the outside but firm on the inside when you sample some. It could take from 12-20 minutes depending on the kind of rice you are using and how chewy – or not-you like it. We’ve become addicted to Italian Arborio rice, especially for this dish.
Strain the rice and return it to the pot. Don’t put the pot back on the stove. Add the mozzarella and mix it together until the cheese gets stringy.
Add the grated parmesan and mix until it has melted and is mixed in. Add the butter stir again to melt and mix it in. Serve it immediately.
It’s great just like that but you could add any veggies, meat or seafood that you want to give it some variety and have a one pot meal. Just add the extras to the pot in the minute or two before the rice is done and bring it back to a boil before Straining. If you add chicken, beef or bacon cook it before you add it to the rice. Shrimp and veggies, even if frozen, will be cooked enough as the water returns to a boil.
We like it with frozen peas added to the pot just before the straining. Here it is like that as a side with some meatballs and salad.
Here it is with some frozen peas and carrots plus some chopped fresh basil leaves as a side for some Lemon Chicken.
And as an all in one pot with the shrimp and peas added when the rice is almost done. Then bring it back up to a boil and strain it. Then do the Mozzarella, Parmesan and butter. Serve up your Italian Mozzarella Rice! Topped with some freshly grated Parmesan. A nice Italian red like a Sangiovese or a Barbera adds a nice touch.