There are some meals which will stand out in the memory forever. One which has been on my mind lately was the dinner date Hungry Hubby took me on for my birthday this year.
We went to a fabulous Italian restaurant and every mouthful was utterly sublime from nibbles at the bar with a flute of Ferrari prosecco (yep, they aren’t just a car manufacturer, lol) to the last scoop of hand churned Italian ice cream.
But it was the starter which blew our mind – the most humble of all Italian dishes, Arancini.
We always share everything when we go out to eat, which was fortuitous this time as the arancini (or more correctly, arancino) Hungry Hubby ordered was absolutely huge!
More of a jaffa orange than a clementine lol!
It was a single, slightly pointed golden globe filled with burrata (cream stuffed mozzarella) and served in a puddle of red pepper and tomato sauce. It is the gush of molten cheese and the seasoned to perfection rice ball that we are likely to be reminiscing over for a long time to come.
Arancini is the Italian word for oranges but the closest they get to citrus fruit is the golden colour these leftover risotto balls stuffed with cheese go on deep frying.
It sounds mental to the uninitiated, to even be able to form risotto into a ball and deep fry it but once it has been chilled in the fridge thoroughly, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to work with. Plus, you can make them ahead, breaking up the stages to make it a very enjoyable task.
It wasn’t until recently that I even contemplated making my own arancini and I owe it to my friend Brian who has a stunningly beautiful blog called Krumpli (the Hungarian word for potato!) for publishing his recipe for these golden globes of loveliness and I am sharing that recipe today.
Like Brian, in our house, no pan of risotto goes uneaten but if have more restraint than us, then double up any of the risotto recipes on my blog and put half in the fridge to be moulded into balls, stuffed with cheese and fried the next day. Best get your fat pants out now 😉
Turn leftover risotto into this cheese stuffed balls of loveliness. They work as a starter for up to 6 people or dinner for 2 hungry ones. Use any risotto you like but make sure it doesn't have any large chunks of meat or vegetables to help with shaping.
- 1 batch leftover risotto (about 450g)
- 6 bocconcini (or one ball of mozzarella cut into 6 chunks)
- 30 g plain flour
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 60 g breadcrumbs
- salt and pepper
- 1-2 litres vegetable oil for deep fay frying
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 roasted red pepper (from a jar)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 400 g canned tomatoes or passata
- 1 tbsp pesto (basil or red as liked)
- parmesan to serve
Take a sixth of your cold risotto and form into a disc in your hand. Place a nugget of cheese or a single bocconcini on top and form the risotto up around it into a ball. Give it a pointed top if liked.
Repeat with the remaining risotto to make 6 arancini in total. Chill in the fridge whilst you make the sauce.
Heat the oil for the sauce in a medium saucepan and cook the onion until starting to soften. Add the pepper, garlic, and tomatoes and stir well. Add half a can of water from the tomato can.
Bring up to a bubble then reduce to a simmer and cook until the onions are completely soft and then add in the pesto. Use a stick blender or transfer to a food processor and blitz until you have a silky purée. Add a little boiling water or stock if too thick for your liking. Keep warm until needed if cooking the arancini straight away.
Return to the arancini making. Preheat your oven to 150˚C and set your deep fat fryer to 160˚C. Never leave your fryer unattended whilst it is heating up or cooking food.
Season the plain flour with some salt and pepper then roll the rice balls in it, coating evenly. Next roll the arancini in the beaten egg, then in the breadcrumbs.
When the oil is hot, cook 2-3 arancini at a time until they are golden brown (about 5 minutes as long as the oil is at the correct temperature). Remove with a slotted spoon and place on an oven tray to finish cooking for 10-15 minutes whilst you finish frying the remaining arancini.
Reheat the sauce if you need to and serve in shallow dishes with either 3 arancini per person for dinner, or one each for a starter for 6. Shave over parmesan and eat immediately (but carefully so not to burn your mouth on all of that molten mozzarella!).
Recipe adapted from Krumpli - original recipe here: Arancini
You can use any risotto you like but a good tip is to remove any larger chunks of meat or veg or chop them and return to the risotto, to make it easier to form the balls.
Panko makes a great coating if you have it in, in place of the ordinary breadcrumbs.
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