I’m not one to encourage stereotypes, but when it comes to food, I feed people like an Italian grandma! I always seem to make too much, especially when it comes to extravagant Italian dishes. I am happy when the recipients of my food are fully satiated and feel a little guilty for indulging too much. The funny thing is—I have absolutely no Italian heritage! Ancestry aside, I think the thing that bonds all home cooks together is simply our love of feeding those we care about. It’s how we express our affection and concern for loved ones, even if we may go overboard sometimes!
Big batches of decadent Italian meals are a cornerstone of my home cooking. They are comforting, usually inexpensive, and easy to pull off! While Italian cuisine is healthy overall, I admit that the more American-Italian dishes that rely on lots of cheeses, sweet red sauces and pasta can be considered more of an occasional treat. My homemade arancini may be one of these!
Arancini sounds like an intimidating recipe, but it’s simply a stuffed cheesy rice ball—think “fried risotto.” There are many different ways you can stuff your basic Arancini, including the addition of ragù or meat sauce, and even vegetables like peas. But in its most simple form, a good Arancini ball needs only rice and cheese. Don’t be intimidated! They sound fancy but they only take a few simple steps to pull off. They are hearty, creamy, comforting and unique. Be sure to pair them with a crispy salad and lots of red sauce for dipping. And if they seem a little too rich to eat all in one sitting, the best part is that they make great leftovers!
Debra’s Easy Arancini
2 ½ cups chicken broth
1 cup Arborio rice
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 whole egg plus one egg yolk
1 cup flour
2 cups breadcrumbs
3 egg whites
2-3 ounces mozzarella, cubed
Vegetable oil for frying
Favorite red sauce, for dipping
1) Cook Arborio rice according to package directions, substituting broth for water. Season with the butter and salt to finish. Let cool.
2) When completely cooled, stir in Parmesan cheese, then mix in whole egg and egg yolk. Continue cooling.
3) Lightly beat egg whites, then spread flour and breadcrumbs on separate plates or shallow bowls.
4) Using clean hands, scoop about two tablespoons of rice mixture into a ball, then insert a cube of mozzarella in the center, using your hands to hide it with the rice.
5) Roll the ball in the flour lightly, then coat in the beaten egg whites, then breadcrumbs. Lay out on wax or parchment paper, and repeat using the rest of the rice and cheese until all balls are formed.
6) Heat oil in a deep fryer or wok, and carefully fry a few balls at a time until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Serve with warmed red sauce for dipping!