Arancini is another of those Italian foods that arose from a desire to use up leftovers – in this case risotto. And in the same way I will put aside bread to go stale in order to make panzanella, I will make a batch of risotto for the specific purpose of making arancini.
These crumbed fried balls of risotto and cheese are indulgent and perfect for a special occasion. They are wonderful with pre-dinner drinks, or a Saturday afternoon wine and catch up with some friends.
Fontina cheese is not common but worth seeking out for it’s heavenly melting qualities. And the truffle oil – while expensive – adds an amazing layer of flavour and you only need to use a tiny amount.
Step 1: make the risotto. I have adapted my baked porcini mushroom recipe – well, the only addition really being a drizzle of truffle oil.
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 15 g packet porcini mushrooms (from delis, continental grocers, etc)
- 200 ml chicken or veg stock
- 150 ml boiled water
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- About a tablespoon picked fresh thyme leaves
- Salt & pepper
- About a dessertspoon of butter
- 1/2 teaspoon white truffle oil (from specialty food stores)
Put the mushrooms in a small bowl or jug and pour over the boiled water. Cover and leave to reconstitute for 5-10 minutes. Put the rice, garlic, and bay leaf in a baking dish. Drain the mushroom and reserve the water they were soaking in – this is full of flavour and must not be wasted. Chop the mushrooms roughly and add to the baking dish. Pour over the mushroom water and stock, and dot with the butter. Cover and bake for about 25 minutes, checking and stirring around at least once throughout and adding more stock or water if necessary. Remove, and stir through the thyme, parmesan and truffle oil.
Step 2: Make the balls. Let the risotto cool. Take some fontina cheese and cut into 5cm approx squares. Spoon some risotto mixture into the palm of your hand and flatten. Place a piece of cheese in the middle, then squish to make a ball. If the cheese isn’t covered over completely, patch up with a bit more risotto. If the risotto mixture is too dry, mix a beaten egg through. If it’s too moist and sticky, mix some plain flour through until you get a workable consistency.
Step 3: Coating & frying. When you’ve finished making the balls, beat 2 eggs in a shallow bowl, and fill another shallow bowl with breadcrumbs. Dip the balls in the egg, then roll in the crumbs and set aside on a plate. When they are all done, heat some light olive oil in a fry pan, and fry over a medium heat in batches, turning to cook on all sides. Drain on paper towels, and serve immediately. You could make these in advance, freezing them when they are cooled and heating up in a medium oven for 20 minutes.