good aranciniIn my New Year’s quest to try cooking new and interesting things, I made arancini for dinner last night. I’ve made risotto before, although not for a couple of years. But I’ve never tried these deep fried risotto balls. Quite frankly, deep frying terrifies me. But last night I got brave, and Adam helped me with the frying.

I used Emeril’s recipe, which was delicious but imperfect. We heated the oil to his suggested temperature, and the first balls burned almost right away.

bad arancini

And 2 minutes is not long enough to heat these through and melt the cheese inside (as witnessed in the photo at right). So we tweaked and finally got these good looking balls in the photo at left, which I served covered in my tomato sauce.

Here’s the recipe and some photos.

3 3/4 to 4 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup Carnaroli or Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for garnish
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, parsley or chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs
1/3 cup cubed mozzarella, cheddar, muenster or Swiss cheese
1/3 cup chopped ham, prosciutto, pepperoni, salami, or other fully-cooked meat or sausage
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1/2 cup flour
1 cup dry Italian bread crumbs
Essence, recipe follows
Tomato sauce, as accompaniment

risotto prepTo make the basic risotto for the arancini, in a saucepan bring stock to a simmer. Cover and set aside to keep hot. In a heavy Dutch oven or large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until transparent, about 4 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is opaque and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed. While continually stirring, begin adding the stock in 1/2 cup increments, allowing the liquid to become completely absorbed between additions. Cook until the rice is just tender and the risotto is creamy, about 20 minutes. Add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, heavy cream, herbs and salt and pepper and stir to combine well. Transfer to a mixing bowl or baking dish and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. When ready to “raid the refrigerator” and make the arancini, remove the chilled risotto from the refrigerator and stir in 1 of the eggs. Using a small scoop or large spoon, divide the risotto into approximately 3 tablespoon portions. Using your hands, form the portions into rough ball shapes.

Press a hole into the center of each risotto ball and stuff the center with some of the cheese and the chopped ham. Press the opening closed and roll the ball between your hands until it is smooth. Set aside while you prepare the other arancini. In a large saucepan, heat 2 inches of oil until a deep-fry thermometer reads 360 degrees F. Place the flour, remaining 2 eggs and bread crumbs in 3 separate bowls. Season each with Essence to taste. Using a fork, lightly beat the eggs. One by one, lightly dredge each risotto ball in the flour, then the beaten egg mixture, then the bread crumbs, so that each ball is completely coated.

ready to fryTransfer to a plate or baking sheet until you are ready to fry the arancini. Fry the balls in batches, a few at a time, turning once during cooking so that they are evenly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer to paper-lined plates to drain briefly, then serve immediately. Serve with Parmesan cheese and some tomato sauce.