Let me start by saying…. I adore these!! If you’ve never tried them, they are made from leftover risotto (how ingenious~) formed into balls, usually stuffed with mozzarella and fried. YUM. The name translates into “little oranges” which is what they’re meant to resemble. Different regions in Italy, naturally, have variations on them: made with ground meat or sausage in the centre, cooked ground beef or peas and/or tomato sauce added to the Risotto/rice mix as well as being formed into larger balls.
Sadly these seem to be very hard for me to find, in any version. When I’m out exploring in this big, beautiful city and find anything that looks like an Italian market, café, restaurant, eatery of any kind… I will stop in and see what they have. That’s a given. While I have tried a few versions, most were sadly lacking – in taste, texture and dare I say appearance. The clear front runner so far, in all categories:
A Food Truck. That’s right. A Food Truck!! With their variation of goat cheese in the center, a deliciously crispy exterior and a perfectly seasoned, tasty tomato sauce!! When I tried these last summer, I swear I couldn’t eaten a truckload of them! Ha. Talk about satisfying a craving~
Do I need to get out more… undoubtedly. In the meantime, as with most foods that I want, I’ll try to recreate them at home. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a hardship – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Talk about fun projects/home work with the end result being, hopefully, something dee-lish to eat!!
At a recent tasting night, I had planned to make Risotto con Funghi, as one of the courses. Great, I thought. I’ll make sure there’s extra, to turn into Arancini. While I have made Risotto with Mushrooms before, this version was entirely with dried wild mushrooms. Porcini, to be exact. With it also including the liquid that rehydrated the mushrooms, this Risotto should have an intense mushroom taste. Perfetto~
Rather than deep fry – not a fave way of cooking – I thought I’d try pan frying them. So I sent up a breading station and went to it. The result..?? Even though my Risotto mixture was too wet and got more unmanageable as it sat at room temp, the end result was very tasty. Not quite round, but still quite tasty. The last ones… I outright flattened into little pancakes, as they were very, very soft.
While I did not have cheese to add to the center (I must’ve had an inkling that it would’ve oozed out cooking them this way…) the crisp exterior gave way to a meltingly tender, creamy and loaded with mushroom taste Arancini. Will I make these again…? OH YEAH! I’ll be sure the Risotto is a little drier so the end product will look like proper little oranges.
Of course, go ahead and deep fry if that’s your thing. Just be sure the oil is at the proper temp before you start, and when cooked, that you drain the Arancini on paper towels to absorb some of the oil. The pan fry method does work, even if the outside is not as crunchy as deep frying. In my mind, that’s a small trade off for the savings in calories. This made approx. 20 cute little Arancini.
2 cups leftover risotto, to form into little balls (I used a small portion scoop)
1 cup flour
2 beaten eggs, seasoned with salt & pepper
1 cup approx. your fave bread crumbs (homemade if you have them)
2 -3 oz mozzarella, cut into small cubes, to enclose in the center
2 – 3 Tbsp. olive oil, for pan frying (or your fave oil in quantity for your deep fryer)
Set up your breading station using 3 plates (pie plates work really well) with flour in one, eggs in the next and bread crumbs as the last step.
Remove your chilled leftover Risotto from the fridge and have ready, to form into small balls.
Using a portion scoop or two spoons, form the Risotto into small balls – then roll in the flour, then the eggs and lastly the bread crumbs. If you do 4 – 6 at a time, it will be quicker and less messier for your hands!
Once the rice balls are ready, heat your sauté pan and add the olive oil.
Fry the balls until crispy on the bottom and gently shake the pan, to roll them to another side. Proceed with this method until all sides are crispy, 5 – 7 minutes. If they do start to flatten, don’t worry – gently press them down into little cakes – they will taste the same.
Serve with your fave Tomato or Marinara sauce, or mix it up and top with your fave condiment: mustard, hot sauce, hot pepper jelly, balsamic onions, etc.
**BEST TIP: when your hands get involved, and they will…. use your left for ingredients that are wet and right for the dry. Trust me. We learned this way back in culinary school, for SBP (standard breading procedure)