Arancini from Vegetarian Cooking: A Common Sense Guide by Bay Books
I also call this recipe “Fried Cheesy Rice Balls,” which I know seems like a mouthful, but I could not for the life of me remember the actual name. A note before beginning: This recipe is time-consuming as the mix needs to be refrigerated. It actually worked out well as it complemented my leftover Chickpea Curry perfectly. I also discovered that it can be reheated in the oven and be even better than it was freshly fried. My cheese did not get very melty with the frying, but melted to perfect melty goodness after some time in the oven (approx 15 minutes at 425 F).
This would also be a very easy recipe to transform into a vegan dish. I think it would be super nommers if a garbanzo bean were in the center. Or garlic. Maybe both. Mmmm.
Cooked on: May 7, 2011
Servings: Makes 20
Cost: Inexpensive – I already had saffron on hand, so this was super in expensive.
Skill level: Intermediate. Be sure to follow instructions.
a large pinch of saffron threads
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) dry white wine
750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) vegetable stock
100 g (3 1/2 oz) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp thyme
220 g (7 3/4 oz/1 cup) risotto rice
50 g (1 3/4 oz/1/2 cup)grated parmesan cheese
100 g (3 1/2 oz/2/3 cup diced mozzarella or fontina cheese (I think a stronger cheese would be better – feta or some sort of goat cheese)
70 g (2 1/2 oz/3/4) dry breadcrumbs
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1. Soak the saffron in the wine and leave to infuse. Pour the stock into a saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and keep at a gentle simmer.
2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Saute the onion and garlic over low heat for 3 – 4 minutes, or until softened. Add the thyme and rice and stir until the rice is translucent. Add the saffron wine and stir until all the wine is absorbed. Add 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) hot stock and stir constantly over medium heat until absorbed. Continue adding more stock, 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) at a time, stirring constantly for 20 – 25 minutes, or until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender and creamy. (It doesn’t matter if the rice becomes a little glutinous – it will actually stick together better.)
3. Remove from the heat, stir in the parmesan, then spread out on a tray covered with plastic wrap. Leave to cool, the refrigerate overnight to firm up.
4. Roll a small amount of the rice mixture into a walnut-sized ball. Press a hole in the middle with your thumb, push a cube of mozzarella inside and press the rice around it to enclose it in a ball. Repeat with the remaining rice and cheese, then roll each ball in the breadcrumbs, pressing down to coat well.
5. Heat enough oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan to fully cover the rice balls. Heat the oil to 180 C (350 F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds. Cook the rice balls in batches, without crowding, for 3 – 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and leave for a few minutes before eating.
(3 – 4 minutes seemed too long to me as they started to blacken if left in that long. This is why my inner cheese did not melt, but I wanted them to look appetizing as well as taste appetizing. It is possible my oil was too hot. I did not have a thermometer that went up that high.)
Serve hot or at room temperature.
Final verdict: This is a delicious recipe. It takes patience and time, but is great if you have both. I reheated these for a Mother’s Day brunch and they went over extremely well.