Have you ever made risotto just for the pure pleasure of making Arancini (Italian Rice Balls)? These are great fun to do with a youngster, or, in the case of the Urb’n’Spice kitchen, with several groups of ladies attending appetizer classes this week. Perfect for small plates, too. They really are quite addictive.
Arancini (Italian Rice Balls)
Arancini are served piping hot – the photo shows arancini served on top of smoked tomato confiture; the filling is raclette cheese. Traditionally, they are served with a simple tomato sauce and the filling is often mozzarella cheese or gruyere.
CHEF TALK: This recipe is adapted from one of my favourite chefs, Emeril Lagasse. He knows a thing or two about risotto and arancini. Enjoy!
The first task of making arancini is making risotto. The recipe follows. If you have leftover risotto, then you can get right to it. Arancini are wonderful little appetizers for small plate gatherings.
Little ones will love to help you roll the rice balls. They are great make-ahead appetizers. I pre-cook them (either by frying or baking) and then rewarm in the oven for a few minutes so that they are piping hot. They can also be served slightly warm or even at room temperature.
Arancini freeze well. Rewarm from frozen on a baking tray in a 325 oven for 10 minutes or until they are hot.
Arancini (Italian Rice Balls)
- 3 3/4 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 cup Arborio rice (Italian short grain rice)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, (Italian parsley, chives, thyme, basil, etc)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 eggs (one for the arancini mix and the other two for the coating stage)
- 1/3 cup cubed raclette cheese (traditionally, mozzarella cheese is used)
- Vegetable oil for frying OR melted butter and paprika for baking arancini (see step 18)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 cup dry bread crumbs or Panko crumbs
- Tomato sauce or smoked tomato confiture, as an accompaniment
To make arancini, you must first make risotto. Here is how you do it:
To Make the RISOTTO:
- In a saucepan, heat the stock slowly and keep it hot while you prepare the rice.
- In a large flat saucier pan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat.
- Add the chopped onion and saute until transparent, about 4 minutes.
- Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is opaque and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed.
- While continually stirring, begin adding the stock in 1/2 cup increments, allowing the liquid to become completely absorbed between additions. Cook until the rice is just tender and the risotto is creamy. (This step takes between 18 -20 minutes, so pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy the moment!)
- Add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, heavy cream, herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To cool the rice quickly, spread the mixture onto a baking sheet. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
To Make the Arancini:
- When you are ready to make the arancini, remove the chilled risotto from the refrigerator.
- Stir in 1 of the eggs. Using a small cookie scoop, divide the risotto into portions.
- Form the portions into ball shapes – this is easier if you wet your hands with water and then roll.
- Press a hole into the center of each risotto ball and stuff the center with some of the cheese.
- Press the opening closed and roll the ball between your hands until it is smooth.
- Repeat until you have used up all of the rice.
- Breading Station: In 3 separate bowls, place the flour, remaining 2 eggs and breadcrumbs.
- Season each bowl with salt and pepper to taste.
- Using a fork, lightly beat the eggs. One by one, lightly dredge each risotto ball first in the flour bowl, then the beaten egg mixture, then the breadcrumbs or panko crumbs, so that each ball is completely coated.
- If you are frying the arancini, heat 2 inches of oil in a large saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 360 degrees F. Fry the balls in batches, a few at a time, turning once during cooking so that they are evenly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer to paper-lined plates. Sprinkle with smoked sea salt. Serve immediately.
- If you are baking the arancini, follow the steps until step 16. Preheat oven to 350oF. Melt 1/4 – 1/2 cup butter and add 1 to 2 teaspoons paprika. Place the melted butter on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Place the prepared arancini on the baking tray and roll the arancini to coat them lightly with the melted butter and paprika. Bake until the arancini are heated through and golden brown. Shake the tray occasionally to evenly brown the arancini in the oven. Sprinkle lightly with smoked sea salt and serve while hot.
- To serve: transfer the arancini to a plate or small platter. Serve with tomato sauce or Urbnspice’s Smoked Tomato Confiture or Roasted Tomato Compote.
- Arancini served with Smoked Tomato Confiture
Please CLICK the link above to access my UrbnSpice LEARNING TIPS, which are listed alphabetically on the Learning Tips blog post under the following subheadings:
- Basic Tools: Scoops for Portioning
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As always, if you give this recipe for Arancini – Italian Rice Balls a try, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback.
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Arancini – the Definition (source: Wikipedia)