Arancini rice balls are a favorite snack all over southern Italy. They are deep fried, crispy on the outside, and buried within a molten cheese or meat filling. I have dreamed of eating these in Italy, but the thought of having to wait until I get to Italy propelled me to try my own hand at making them at home.
I don’t know about you, but I am loath to deep fry anything at home. Not that I don’t relish eating crispy French fries at a local bistro, but deep frying at home leaves you with frying oil to strain and store and a residual aroma of frying oil that lingers in the kitchen for days. Why not oven fry them instead? Challenging a cooking tradition perhaps, but it is a solution that works for many deep fried foods and Arancini di Riso seemed like a perfect candidate for this cooking adaptation. Great for a party or as a starter for an Italian meal!
Making the rice balls: makes 8
Preheat oven to 425F/220C
Prepare a rack, lined with parchment, set over a cooking sheet or roasting pan.
- cooked risotto rice ( Risotto;Basic posted in Basics ,Vegetable & Sides)
- 1 egg, beaten
- Gorgonzola cheese, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- mayonnaise; homemade preferably with garlic (Alioli)
- bread crumbs ( panko is a good substitute, which I have used for this recipe)
Fold the beaten egg into the risotto rice until well incorporated.
Using a 1/4 cup measure of risotto rice, with moist hands, form the rice into balls, very much like you would do in making meatballs. Compress the rice until it holds together. Set aside and continue to make the rest of the rice balls.
To add the Gorgonzola take a rice ball into the palm of your hand and press a hole into the center. Push a Gorgonzola cube into the center and fold the rice around it to completely enclose it in the center of the ball. Roll the rice ball a bit to restore the roundness. Continue with the rest of the balls and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Place the mayonnaise and bread crumbs (or panko) in two shallow dishes in preparation for coating.
Roll a rice ball in the mayonnaise to completely coat and immediately roll the ball in the bread crumbs (or panko) to coat completely. Set on parchment lined rack over the baking sheet. Continue with the remaining balls.
Place the rice balls in the center of the oven for a total of about 30 to 40 minutes, turning the rice balls once half way through the cooking time and rotating the baking sheet several times for even cooking. When the now Arancini di Riso are a light golden color, remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes while you prepare to serve them.
Serve warm, but not hot, with Salsa Verde (Salsa Verde posted in Bites & Starters, Mains) or another sauce of choice!
If you have leftovers, seal and refrigerate. To reheat: Remove Arancini from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Pre-heat oven to 300F/150C. Place in a baking tray and warm for about 12 minutes. They are even better the second time around!
Arancini di Riso is wonderfully delicious as you bite into them with the added burst of flavor at their center.