On March 11, loyal customers and friends of Piglatin Cocina had to swallow some seriously unpleasant news, that the beloved cheesy rice balls would no longer grace the menu. Many patrons expressed their utter shock and dismay as this “food for the people,” exited the building, seemingly for good. The snacky staple even held enough merit to warrant it’s very own Facebook farewell event, aptly named, “Say goodbye to our balls,” and hungry risotto loving foodies did grieve, all while sinking their teeth into the warm, gooey goodness for one. last. time.

Until now.

So as we all sit in the thick of this unknown period, understandably adhering to the stay-at-home order in place to protect ourselves and others, let’s bring back the balls. Let’s collectively jump in our hip-hop time machines and make our way back to early March, when we were still munching on these crispy, fried spheres and cheersing spicy margs sans Zoom. But for now, let’s order our cocktails to-go curbside and prep, form and enjoy these puppies in the privacy and safety of our very own cocinas.

“It was bittersweet to get rid of the rizzo balls because it was one of the first menu items we had on the food truck,” says Andres Velez, chef proprietor of Piglatin Cocina. “But yo, to be honest, they’re time consuming.”

And time, is something we have plenty of right now.

Make it a good day. FaceTime, add fusion cuisine + tequila.

Rizzo Balls

Recipe by: Andres Velez


  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • ½ Cup Choice of Ground Ham
  • 1 ½ Cups Arborio Rice
  • 2 Tbsp Minced Onion
  • 1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
  • ½ Cup White cooking wine or Chardonnay
  • 3 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 2 Tbsp Minced Parsley
  • ¾ Cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 Cup shredded mozzarella 
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 2 Large beaten Eggs
  • 1 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs


Heat oil in medium sized saucepan at medium heat then add ham, rice, and onion.

Cook and stir until rice is lightly golden and onion is translucent.

Add garlic and stir until the garlic turns a light golden hue.

Add white wine and deglaze pan then add half the chicken stock and continue to stir for one minute or until it begins to simmer.

Lower heat and continue to cook until the liquid reduces by half, gradually add stock until rice is barely passed al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed.  

Remove from heat and add parsley and parmesan.  Stir until fully incorporated.  

Let cool 3-5 hours minimum, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Once risotto has cooled, form 2.5 inch (diameter) discs.

Place a pinch of mozzarella in each disc and close to form a ball

Continue until all remaining risotto is gone.

Breading the Balls

Roll balls in flour, then eggs, and finally breadcrumbs

Using an oil thermometer, bring temperature to 350 degrees

In a new medium saucepan, add enough frying oil to cover balls ¾ of the way.

Fry for 6 to 8 minutes, until golden brown and top with Parmesan cheese. 

Serve with sofrito, or Piglatin Island Sauce. Enjoy!

Put them in your mouth.

“We made the rizzo balls for years but this opens us up to more possibilities and now more time to do better things,” Velez adds. “When things go back to normal we will be replacing them with ham, cheese and jalapeño empanadas–less steps, bigger, faster, more cheese, more ham.”

Done son. We can live with that promise.

*All images courtesy of Piglatin Cocina


Looking back at the social media banter from early March, it almost feels like a decade ago, a different time altogether where no one was anticipating the escalating situation surrounding COVID-19 that dramatically changed the way Piglatin, and every other eatery in Colorado, is currently doing business. With the acceptance of this slower pace it does inevitably welcome the possibility of boredom and other unforeseen challenges: working remotely, suddenly home-schooling our children, all while our pets are living their best lives. Most notably though we are witnessing that these newfound hours in the day inspires many of you (us too) to call upon your inner Betty Crocker spirit animal as we continue to see more and more intricate home cooked meals and beautiful baked good emerge on our feed. We encourage you to continue to support our local businesses during these difficult days but we also want to support your personal cooking passions and plan to diligently share more recipes in April to further highlight our Colorado chefs/bloggers and fellow foodies. Stay strong Colorado.