Oh my god, where does the time go?! One minute I’m blogging away contentedly on a weekly basis, and the next, over a month has passed, life has got in the way, and there’s not a blog post in sight…I have a lot of catching up to do!
Last weekend I was at a wedding and was having a chat to a fellow foodie friend, who I recently bonded with over the incredibly complex construction of a penis cake. We’re not total perverts – we were at a hen do, so a willy cake is pretty much par for the course. Anyway, I digress. We were chatting about arancini (deep fried risotto balls with melted mozzarella or ragù inside..mmmmm), and more specifically, how we never make them because we never have any leftover risotto.
Well for the first time in my life, I recently had some leftover risotto, so I embarked on my first ever attempt to make arancini di riso. I am pleased to say they were absolutely delicious, and actually really easy to make.
Arancini originated in Sicily in the 10th century, and these days you can find them pretty much all over Italy. I remember seeing them for the first time in the window of one of the delis near Piazza Maggiore in Bologna, and I just had to have one. It didn’t disappoint. Biting into the hot risotto through a fried breadcrumb exterior, and finding a warm ragù with melted cheese and sweet peas on the inside, is one of my fondest memories of my time in Italy.
I can’t believe I’ve left it 10 years to have a go at making them, but who ever has leftover risotto? These ones are stuffed with mozzarella and ham as I wanted to keep it simple to keep it simple, but the risotto was leek, rosemary and mascarpone, so erring on the indulgent side. This is not a recipe if you’re watching your waistline.
Arancini di riso
Ingredients (makes 6 large arancini)
– Leftover risotto – equivalent of two portions
– Breadcrumbs – I used about half a loaf of bread without crusts
– A good handful of cubed or grated mozzarella – the dry type that comes in a block is better than the normal mozzarella balls that come in water
– Chopped ham
– 2 eggs, beaten
– Sunflower/vegetable oil – a bottle
Press the cold risotto flat onto a plate and make sure you have all the other ingredients ready in bowls. Wet your hands with cold water and scoop a handful of risotto from the plate. The cold water will stop the rice sticking to your hands too much. Press the rice flat into the palm of your hand and shape it until you end up with a sort of cup made out of risotto.
Take some mozzarella and ham and push into the centre of the risotto cup.
Now with the other hand, scoop another flat bit of risotto from the plate, big enough to cover the top of the risotto cup. Lay it on top of the cup filled with mozzarella and ham, and carefully press together into a ball, making sure you have closed all gaps.
Dip in the beaten egg and roll in the breadcrumbs. Gently brush off any loose breadcrumbs and place the arancino on one side. Wet your hands with cold water again and repeat.
Once you’ve used up all the risotto, heat a bottle of sunflower oil and wait until very hot to drop the arancini in. You can see if it’s ready by throwing in a small piece of bread – if it is it will start sizzling straight away. Carefully lower in the arancini using a slotted spoon, making sure you turn them every few minutes so they cook evenly. Leave them for about 10 minutes, or until they are golden brown all over.
When they’re ready, take them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them to some kitchen roll to absorb the excess oil. Leave to cool for a few minutes as they’ll be piping hot, but don’t leave it too long – you want to make the most of that gorgeous, stringy, melty mozzarella!