Monday, 11 June 2012

ARANCINI (DEEP-FRIED RISOTTO BALLS)

I make risotto, and paella, fairly regularly. Both dishes are easy and comforting. Occasionally, I find there are a couple of tablespoonsful left in the pan, which no one wants (and risotto isn't particularly appetising reheated the next day - though paella is). Until Saturday, I would chuck the leavings down the waste-disposal unit. Not so now that I have discovered how ridiculously easy it is to make arancini, or deep-fried risotto balls. I have seen these in the deli cabinet at Carluccio's and on Italian restaurant menus, and I don't know why I haven't made them before, because they are simple and tasty, and make a great canapé with a glass of chilled Prosecco.

Arancini are, I suppose, the Italian equivalent of tapas, though the ones I have seen in Carluccios look big enough for a light meal, and indeed the name comes from the Italian word for "orange". But I didn't want tennis-ball sized canapés, so I kept them small (walnut-sized), and they went down a treat with the aforementioned Prosecco. "They were the best part of the meal" said my husband afterwards.

You don't need a deep-fat fryer for this recipe, though it helps. If you don't have one, fill a deep saucepan with olive oil and remove the cooked arancini carefully with a slotted spoon. Set on some kitchen paper to drain. Oh, and by the way, you don't have to serve them hot. We ate them at room temperature and they were delicious.

The ingredients and quantities are approximate, because we're dealing with leftovers here!

Leftover cooked risotto or paella
Breadcrumbs
Grated hard cheese such as Parmesan, Pecorino or Manchego
Mozzarella or similar easily melting cheese for the filling (Gorgonzola, Brie, Taleggio....)
Olive oil for frying

Heat the oil so it is ready to fry the arancini as they are made.

Mix the breadcrumbs with the grated cheese. Take a walnut-size portion of risotto, flatten it slightly in the palm of your hand and pop a small piece of Mozzarella or Gorgonzola (or whatever you have selected). Then form the mixture into a ball, ensuring the filling is sealed inside. Roll the ball in breadcrumbs and fry until golden brown. Repeat the process until you have used up all the leftover risotto.

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