So arancini are fried risotto balls. Italians are freaking smart. When they have leftover risotto, they let it chill, then stuff it and fry it. Here’s my big question – WHAT is leftover risotto? I never have leftover risotto since I usually scarf it down like a wild animal. Well played Italians, well played.
The first arancini I ever tried was this one. I had it at Bella Napoli, where Alex Staab used to be the head chef. He now teaches cooking classes and I asked him to teach us this recipe. I have tried arancini at a variety of local KC restaurants and even tried them in other cities across the US. Since my first taste a few years ago, NONE have lived up to this one. Now I can do it at home in my own kitchen! They are a great appetizer for any meal, or could even be a meal themselves. Maybe pair them with a nice lemon/oil/arugula salad. They are very filling, and I would make sure you do have enough sauce since the tomato sauce just makes these pop with flavor. Buon appetito!
Arancini: (feeds 10-12)
- 8 oz arborio rice
- 1 onion diced very fine
- 3 tbsp butter
- 12 oz tomato sauce, divided (choose whatever tomato sauce you like, canned, jarred, your recipe…)
- 1-1/2 cups of parmigiano cheese
- 2 balls of mozzarella
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 can of tomato paste (small can)
- 1 bag of frozen peas
- 3 eggs for a egg wash
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- olive oil
- 4 qts chicken stock
- In a large saucepan, heat the chicken stock so it is very hot, but not simmering or boiling
- In a large pot melt the butter and cook half of the onion till translucent.
- Once the onions are cooked, add the rice and brown the rice for an additional 4-5 minutes.
- Add the wine to the rice and cook until the rice absorbs most of the liquid.
- Add stock to the rice, just enough to cover the rice and continue to stir.
- Once the stock is absorbed add more and repeat the process till the rice is cooked.
- When the rice is cooked, add 6 oz of tomato sauce and cheese and stir to combine.
- Spread the rice on a sheet pan and let cool. This is usually a step that should be done a day beforehand so the rice can set in the fridge and be cool for making the balls. If you need to make the balls the same day, put the rice in the freezer for about 1 hour or so to cool.
- In another saute pan, add 3 tbsp of olive oil and cook the remaining onions.
- When the onions are cooked, add the ground beef and cook through.
- Next, add the can of tomato paste and fill the can with water and add that as well.
- Continue to cook for a minute or two then add the peas.
- Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Whisk 3 eggs together in a medium sized mixing bowl
- In another bowl pour the 2 cups of bread crumbs.
- Place enough of the cooled risotto to fit in the palm of your hand. Next place a quarter size chunk of mozzarella and a then a spoonful of the meat and pea mixture.
- Close the rice around the meat and mozzarella adding any patches of risotto to ensure no filling is showing. Compress the ball tightly to ensure the mixture is covered completely w/ risotto. Be sure to keep these about the same size as a tennis ball.
- Place the ball in the egg wash and gently roll it until completely covered, then right after, gently roll in bread crumbs. Place in tray as you complete the process for the rest of the balls.
- Once they are have been breaded, heat oil in pan or deep fryer at at 315 degrees.
- Fry them until golden brown. If needed, complete the cooking process in the oven. (Sometimes if the balls are too large, the fryer cannot heat them all the way. Test one to ensure the fryer process will work, if the balls aren’t headed the whole way through, finish in a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes.
- Ladle the remaining 6 oz of tomato sauce into a deep dish or trey.
- Place risotto balls on top of the sauce and serve warm.