Arancini di Riso con Funghi, and this time it worked!
Thanks so much to everyone who has left comments and sent emails lamenting my sudden disappearance from the kitchen. It’s great to know that I and my food experimentation have been missed. Things have been absolutely crazy here these past few weeks. Crystal left for Spain, after many visa debacles. I started a new job. I’ve undertaken a massive book reorganization project, so the huge collection is finally being put in order. I’ve had to spend way more time than I wanted dealing with computer issues and yes, I am actually debating going over to the dark side and buying a macbook. Not to mention attempting to keep the house clean, getting myself to the gym on occasion, and taking advantage of my last weeks of freedom before school by going out to the bar too much. Uh oh.
But I have been cooking, at least a little bit. Before Crystal’s departure she requested one last risotto, a Wild Mushroom and Pea risotto, which was fantastic. Of course, I made way too much and the day after making it, on Crystal’s very last night in the States, I decided to try, yet again, to make arancini di riso, or risotto fritters, risotto balls, fried risotto, whatever you want to call it. My last experiment with these never made it to these pages because it was disastrous. They stuck to the pan and fell apart and didn’t cook all the way through and, ugh, nightmare. This time, though, they were perfect.
The trick, I discovered, is to use a non-stick pan (I used a wok) and to let them cook for a bit before trying to turn them over. I pulled the recipe from Giada’s Everyday Italian, and this one was a winner for Giada. Our friend Jen stopped by in the middle of dinner and swooned over them, and I know she has some pretty high standards, so that must be a good sign, right?
These definitely involve getting messy, and we all know I’m not a great big fan of that. But I’ll be willing to cover my hands in slimy risotto residue to make these again, they are that good.
Arancini di Riso
- 2 c. leftover risotto (I used mushroom risotto, hence “con funghi”)
- 1 1/2 c. bread crumbs
- 1/2 c. grated Parmesan
- 2 eggs
- 2 oz. mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I actually used very small balls of fresh mozzarella, perlini, and I used two per ball of risotto, so about 30 of them. However, it wasn’t very flavorful. Smoked mozzarella would have been awesome, I suspect.)
- vegetable or canola oil, for frying (I added a little olive oil, too)
Mix together the leftover risotto, 1/2 a cup of the breadcrumbs, the parmesan cheese, and the eggs. Mix very well so the egg is well combined. Put the rest of the bread crumbs in a small bowl. Take a small handful of the risotto mixture, probably about two tablespoons, or enough to make a golf ball-sized ball, and form it around the mozzarella. Make sure the mozzarella is completely enclosed inside the risotto. Roll the risotto ball in the bread crumbs to coat, and set it aside. Repeat, ad nauseum. You’ll probably end up with 14 or 15 risotto balls.
In a large, non-stick pan or sauce pot, add enough oil to reach a depth of about two inches (Giada suggests three inches, but I didn’t think that much oil would be necessary. And I was right). Heat the oil over medium heat. It should be about 350F, but if you don’t have a thermometer, just throw a small bit of bread crumb or something in. Once it sizzles and starts sending up bubbles, the oil is ready. Working in batches, add the rice balls and cook each until they are nice and browned, turning if necessary to cook each side. I cooked them for about four minutes each, turning them every minute to make sure they were cooked all over, since they weren’t entirely submerged in the oil.
Once they are lovely and brown and crisp, remove them from the oil and let them drain on a paper towel while you cook the rest. When they’re all finished, they should sit for a minute or two before you serve them, so you don’t burn anyone’s face off.
I believe that I will dream of these in the future, will wake up in the morning with sudden inexplicable cravings. They are that good. And since you always have leftover risotto, why not, I say, why not?
I do have a few other things up my sleeve and waiting for me to find time to write about. I made lamb chops for the first time, and they were sweeeet. I’m making mint chocolate ice cream today, and hopefully, unless it gets too hot, pizza tonight. In fact, I have the next six days off and have nothing in mind but relaxing, reading, cooking, and trying not to stress out about starting school next Tuesday. Oh, and going to the Cape and eating lobster. And you can bet I’ll be telling you all about that.
I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to update once I’m back in school, but I’m hoping to aim for twice a week. I guess we’ll see how that works out when the time comes. Thanks to all of you who’ve been sticking around and waiting patiently for me to get my life sorted. You’re all swell.