Arancini (Italian fried rice balls)

Shame about the boring photo but I made all these Italian dishes in one night and the photography took second place to delivering them all in an edible state. The arancini were a lot more exciting than they looked.

Having tried these in the UK I was really unimpressed, but try them from a street stall in Rome and a fried ball of rice becomes something different altogether.

Lessons learned from this attempt. One: I read that panko breadcrumbs were the best. I’d disagree. The arancini became too much about the breadcrumbs when they should be about the rice and  its filling. I’d go with softer breadcrumbs next time. Two: they don’t reheat well at all, so only make what you want to eat at that point. Three: don’t skimp on the cheese – the more the better especially if you want the Roman effect of strings of mozzarella as you bite into them.

What to use – made 20 arancini

  • 250g arborio rice
  • 200ml white wine
  • 600ml chicken (or veg) stock
  • 50g parmesan, finely grated
  • 150g mozzarella – but I would increase this next time
  • breadcrumbs – enough to coat the arancini
  • vegetable oil to fry them in – I deep fried them
  • olive oil and butter – small amount for risotto

To fill them

I made three versions using: chunks of gorgonzola, spicy sausage, and mushroom and truffles

How to use it

First make a risotto but don’t put as much effort into the stirring as you would ordinarily. I fried the rice in a knob of butter and drizzle of oil for a couple of minutes. Then I added the wine and boiled that down, then added the stock, stirred well and left it to reduce. You could improvise here – I’d definitely be bolder with the risotto in future and think a bit of passata would be a good addition.

When the risotto is done, stir in the parmesan, season and taste. When you’re happy with it, leave it to cool – I chilled it in the fridge over night.

When you’re ready to make the arancini, chop up the mozzarella and mix into the rice. With wet or oiled hands, form the balls, adding whatever filling you choose to use and closing the rice around it.

There are quite complex methods of coating arancini out there but I just rolled them around a plate of breadcrumbs. The texture was soft enough that the crumbs stuck to the arancini without any problem.

You can shallow fry these but I imagine it’s a faff and most recommend deep frying which is not such a health scare as it sounds as you’re unlikely to make these a regular part of your diet. I deep freed them for 2 minutes until brown and crisp with the cheese oozy and melted in the middle.

The cheese-filled ones were definitely the winners.

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