This is what Ina Garten does with her leftover risotto, according to “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.” She mixes it with high-fat dairy products, shapes it into patties and fries up a big batch of Chive Risotto Cakes.

You’d think Ina was Southern, except for the way she always talks about how good her food looks, smells and tastes. I’ve never seen a Southern woman do that, except for Paula Deen, which makes me think she’s being prompted by a pimply Food Network intern with a taser.

“Hey, ya’ll! This might not be fit to eat, but …” BrrrrrrrrZAP! “Teethin’ babies just love Smithfield ham!”

Ina’s Chive Risotto Cakes remind me of potato pancakes cranked to 11. The crunchy panko crust gives way to a creamy, tangy interior of Fontina cheese, Greek yogurt, chives and softened rice. If the scent doesn’t lure you in, that first bite will. And, as Ina would say, how good is that? BrrrrrrrrZAP!

Chive Risotto Cakes

From Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics”

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 ½ cup cups grated Italian Fontina cheese (5 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • Good olive oil
  1. Bring a large (4-quart) pot of water to a boil and add ½ tablespoon salt and the Arborio rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The grains of rice will be quite soft. Drain the rice in a sieve and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, Fontina, 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, and the pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cooled rice and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, until firm.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  4. Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using a standard (2 1/4 –inch) ice cream scoop or a large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾ inch thick.
  5. Place 4-6 patties in the panko, turning once to coat.
  6. Place the patties in the hot oil and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side until the risotto cakes are crisp and nicely browned. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Continue cooking in batches, adding oil as necessary, until all the cakes are fried. Serve hot.