It’s hard to say which I like more, risotto or the arancini made from the leftovers. Both are great and remind me of Italy. Arancini means “little orange” which is the standard size of these crunchy appetizers. They’re the Italian way to use up leftover rice. I like to serve them with a simple marinara sauce or roasted red pepper sauce for dipping. Yum!
*Naptime tip- Using risotto made earlier that week, stuff and roll the rice balls then cover and chill until ready to coat and fry.
*Bonus: Fried arancini can be frozen then re-warmed in the oven when ready to serve.
Arancini (Italian fried rice balls)
Recipe from Rachael McAllister
Yields about 24 arancini
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot (or 1/2 a yellow onion), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
6 cups chicken or veg stock, simmering
1/2 cup frozen peas, optional
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
1-2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. freshly chopped parsley, optional
S&P to taste
1 Tbs. butter
2 cups panko, 1/2 cup separated
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 eggs, beaten
1 lb. fresh mozzarella, cubed
Canola or peanut oil, for frying
Pour the 6 cups of stock into a pot and bring to a gentle simmer.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the shallot or onion and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and toast in oil for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add 2 ladles-full of the simmering stock and cook, stirring frequently until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add another ladle of the stock and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Keep adding another ladle of stock and stirring until the rice is barely al dente, about 20 minutes. Add one more ladle of stock to keep rice saucy and add peas, if using. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, lemon juice, parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste.
Enjoy as is, or refrigerate until chilled to make arancini.
For the Arancini:
In a large bowl combine the risotto, 1/2 cup of the panko, the Parmesan and the eggs. Scoop up 2 Tablespoon-sized portions of the mixture and roll into a a ball with damp hands. Make an indentation in the center of each ball and insert a cube of mozzarella. Cover up the hole to completely enclose the cheese then roll each ball in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of panko to coat.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add enough oil so that it is 3-inches deep. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Working in batches, fry the rice balls, turning occasionally, until golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve with marinara sauce for dipping.