Saturday, December 1, 2012

Arancini (Fried Stuffed Rice Balls)

Deep frying our turkey has become a new tradition at our house (if two years in a row can be considered a tradition). I'm calling it one because I plan on doing it for a long time to come. I seriously recommend it...I don't even like turkey and I ate some (it's that juicy and non offensive). Plus it frees up my oven for cooking side dishes.

Last year I didn't consider the fact that I was heating up a ton of oil just to cook the turkey and didn't use it for anything else. So this year I had a game plan. I made vegetable chips (kale and carrots) before the turkey even went in. Then after the turkey came out (it needs 30 minutes to rest anyway), I fried these arancini and sweet potato fries too (which I didn't leave in long enough and they weren't crispy and I was kind of sad about it until I ate the fifty other things we had and realized I probably would have exploded anyway if I'd eaten sweet potato fries too).

Makes 4 light lunch or dinner servings

3 cups chilled risotto
12 (1/2-inch) cubes mozzarella (or other melty cheese of choice), about 1 oz. total
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs (not seasoned)
about 8 cups vegetable oil for frying

1.      Roll chilled risotto into 12 (1 1/2-inch) balls using wet hands. Poke a small hole in center of each ball and insert a cube of cheese, then re-form into a ball.
2.      Put flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in 3 separate bowls. Dredge 1 risotto ball in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg, letting excess drip off, then dredge in bread crumbs and transfer to a sheet of wax paper. Repeat with remaining balls.
3.      Heat 1 1/2 to 2 inches oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot until thermometer registers 360°F. Working in batches of 4, lower rice balls into oil with a slotted spoon and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 360°F between batches.
4.      Let balls stand 2 minutes before serving (for cheese to melt).

adapted from Gourmet, April 2005
cold saffron risotto with butternut squash, rolled into a ball
stuffing with monterey jack cheese

I chose a mild cheese for the kids (I thought they
might not like the blue cheese). But among the
adults, the blue cheese was the clear winner.
stuffing with blue cheese
stuffed with cheese and re-rolled
dipping in flour
dipping in egg
rolling in bread crumbs
going in to the fryer
in the turkey fryer

The dark specks in the strainer are from the dry rub
that fell off the turkey and were floating around
in the oil. I figured they would just add flavor.
fried stuffed rice balls
arancini inside

As you can see, the outside is crispy and the inside is warm
and melty. Delicious! I think next time, I would make a
mushroom risotto. The possibilities are endless.

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