Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Challenge recipe 17: Arancini

First of all, this is my 300th post! So to celebrate, I've done a little five minute bloggy facelift. Wheeeeeeeee!!

Ahem. Moving rapidly along, I've been wanting to make this recipe for ages but it's always seemed like too much hard work. So I put it on my cookbook challenge list! I've detoured quite a bit from the recipe, but mostly in the technique rather than the ingredients. Here's the book:

And here's what you'll need to make the risotto:

You can actually make this part of it a day ahead. Start by dicing the onion as small as you can:

Smash a clove of garlic with the side of a knife (it's the easiest way to get the skin off. Trust me!):

Then shove it through a garlic press.

If you're me, this is the point where you decide to stop and have lunch, thus guaranteeing that your entire house smells like onion. Don't be me.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a saucepan, and cook the onion and garlic until translucent:

Then add half a cup of arborio rice:

Stir until it's covered in oil, then add in half a cup of dry white wine:

Stir constantly. Once the wine has mostly evaporated, add salt reduced chicken stock, half a cup at a time:

The recipe called for 2.5 cups. I ended up using 2 cups, and found that 1.5 cups probably would have been enough. Just see how it goes and judge for yourself. Anyway, when the last of the stock has almost evaporated, add in half a cup of frozen peas and remove it from the heat:

Also add half a cup of grated parmesan cheese. (The recipe also calls for 40g of diced ham, but as I don't eat pig, I left it out.)

Mix it all together, and then pour it into a medium sized bowl and let it cool for at least fifteen minutes.

Here's what you'll need for the second phase - turning the risotto into arancini:

While the rice is cooling, chop up 100g of mozzarella cheese into chunks. You want them to be about 1cm cubed. Obviously, mine were a little bigger than that. I wound up having to trim the edges later. Don't be like me.

Once the rice is cool, lightly beat an egg and add it into the risotto:

Now comes the slightly tricky part, which will be unaccompanied by pictures because it was too damned messy. Take a tablespoon of risotto in your hand, press a piece of mozzarella into the middle, and put another tablespoon of risotto on the top. Roll it around to make a ball, then toss it in plain flour. I actually found the easiest way to do it was to use a cookie scoop. It meant the size was consistent and you could dump it into your hand easily. (The recipe actually says to take two tablespoons of mixture, roll into a ball, push the cheese into the middle, then form the ball around it again. I tried this way. IT'S DUMB AND OVERLY COMPLICATED AND REALLY DOESN'T WORK.)

When you've done that, put an egg in a bowl with a tablespoon of milk:

Beat it together, then grab at least 1 cup of breadcrumbs. Again, there will be no pictures of the process because it's really messy. Take a rice ball, coat it in the egg/milk mixture, then toss it in the breadcrumbs. Repeat until you have so many breadcrumbs on your fingers that you could deep fry your hands and not feel a thing (aka until you're finished).

At this stage, you can either push on with cooking them, or stick them in the fridge until you're ready to roll.

Now, cooking them is a little complicated. The book says to deep fry them for several minutes until the mozzarella melts. I tried that, and they ended up burnt and gross on the outside with a solid piece of cheese in the middle. So here's MY method, which was far more successful (and probably a *little* healthier). Dump an entire bottle of canola oil into a saucepan. Heat it up until it's ready (I tested it by sprinkling in a few breadcrumbs. If they bubble when you add them, it's hot enough). Then deep fry the arancini one at a time until golden brown (this took about a minute each):

Put them on kitchen paper when you take them out of the oil. Once all the arancini have been fried, put them on a baking tray and stick them in the oven at 150 degrees C for 15-20 minutes.

That sad looking pale one on the far right was an experiment to see what happened if you skipped the deep frying part and put it in the oven smothered in spray oil. Answer: it cooks, but doesn't even remotely brown.

ANYWAY. Serve them as finger food or with a salad as a main course.

The verdict? They were a lot of work, but they're pretty awesome. In the future, I'd probably try making them with a more flavourful (but equally melty) cheese than mozzarella. And possibly dip them in some kind of tomato sauce-y stuff. (By which I do not mean ketchup!) I'd probably also add more pepper to the risotto to give it some bite. (Oh. AND. I used gluten free flour and gluten free breadcrumbs, and they worked fine. So they're gluten intolerance friendly!!)

So thanks for sticking by me through 300 posts. Here's to 300 more!

Has anyone else made arancini from scratch? And what do you think of the new design??
K xx


  1. I already love risotto, so I'm sure I'd love this recipe! (and then would die of a heart attack, but it would be worth it)

    I like your new colour scheme :-)

  2. These look really good and I love your helpful instructions.

  3. Wow! Good on you, this looks super complicated. I'm sure I'd make a real mess of things!

  4. @Kat - according to the recipe, there's only about 150 calories in each one. So they're not as heart attacky as anticipated! And thanks :)
    @Lissa - they ARE really good. But kind of time consuming...
    @Vanisha - the only complicated part is rolling them. The first few will probably look a bit weird, but after that you get into the swing of things and it doesn't seem as bad! It's definitely messy though.


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