Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Arancini....Stuffed Rice Ball Fritters
When I told my daughter that I was about to attempt making arancini "little oranges", crispy rice balls packed with a delicious meat and cheese filling, it brought back memories of her stay in Florence. She would often rely on these "fast food" rice balls for a quick inexpensive lunch. Proof that arancini may have had their humble beginnings in Sicily but are now enjoyed in all parts of Italy and even beyond its borders. While in the process of tackling my first arancini recipe, filling and forming the rice balls, I asked myself "what was I thinking given the "toil and trouble" involved?" I could have easily purchased them at one of my favourite Italian stores. Determined to finish what I had started, I managed to make eight perfectly formed rice balls stuffed with veal and cheese. Straying from the traditional recipe, I opted not to use the"ragu" tomato sauce in the meat mixture. One crunchy bite and I was hooked, already dreaming of possible filling combinations for the next attempt. Arancini are traditionally fried but I decided to once again turn to my trusted panko crumbs to turn out a baked version which could be just as crispy and tasty. Mission accomplished!!! These delightful fritters adapted well to my "no frying zone" take on the recipe. Yes, I should definitely have stocks in a panko breadcrumb company and join Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution". A totally healthy recipe with all the flavours and crispiness you would expect but none of the grease. The trick was to process the panko breadcrumbs to a fine texture and drizzle extra virgin oil on the finished rice balls before baking them. I simply rolled each ball on some oiled parchment paper so that they they were totally coated with the rich flavours of extra virgin oil, and to ensure that they turned out golden brown.
1½ cups Arborio rice
1/8 teaspoon saffron
1 tablespoon hot water
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino cheese
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 small onion finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella (cut into small cubes)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup flour
2 eggs beaten
1-1½ cups panko crumbs (processed fine with a food processor)
In boiling salted water cook the rice to "al dente". Drain and let cool. Stir in the saffron which has been soaked in a tablespoon of hot water (this will give it an orange colour). Stir in the beaten egg and 1/2 cup of grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the onion for about 3 minutes. Add the veal and brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss in the parsley and peas and cook for another minute or two. Let cool. Mix in the mozzarella cubes and 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese.
Take a handful of the rice mixture in your left hand and make a hollow with your thumb. Spoon in a heaping teaspoon of the meat/cheese mixture into the hollow. Take some more rice to cover the meat mixture and form a ball (about the size of a very small orange). Once you have finished forming the arancini balls, dredge each one in some flour, then roll them in the beaten egg and finish off by rolling them in the breadcrumbs.
Drizzle extra virgin oil over the surface of the arancini. Bake in a preheated 375º F . Turn them midway through the baking to ensure that all the surface is golden. Total cooking time 30-35 minutes
Posted by Anna C