I looked up a billion recipes for these and have to say that if you give them a try yourself, keep it simple. There was one suggestion that called for you to add an egg and heavy cream to the day old risotta, all I have to say to that is: DISASTER! It took my perfectly old sticky rice and turned it back into a soft gooey mess. Needless to say I had to start all over and was forced to wait another 24 hours. I also suggest that you refrain from adding either pancetta or prosciutto inside with your mozzarella, not only does it add to the cost of this pretty inexpensive dish, the prosciutto becomes an unappetizing hard ball inside the Arancini...it was as yucky as it sounds.
I'm sad to say it was harder to make these than I was hoping, I think it's all in the texture of your rice. I had to wash and thoroughly dry my hands in between every two balls! Let me tell you, there was a lot of cussing and huffing and even a little rice throwing during this part. The rice just did not want to stick together! Once they were all formed though, the rest was a breeze, and they fry up in seconds. You must make these, they were worth every bit of frustration and the unexpected extra day wait.
Risotto, refrigerated over night
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups Panko
1 cup flour
fresh mozzarella ball (cubed)
olive oil or vegetable oil
day old risotto, prepared
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot to 350 degrees. You want enough oil to almost, but not completely cover your Arancini.
2. Set up your dipping stations using three medium sized mixing bowls. Fill bowl one with just flour, bowl two with eggs and milk (beaten), and in bowl three, fill with the bread crumbs and Panko. Have a baking sheet (with sides) lined with parchment paper ready.
3. Take about 2-3 tablespoons risotto, form into a ball then smoosh into your hand. Place 1-3 pieces of your cubed mozzarella cheese (depending on size) in the middle of your smooshed ball, cover and reform into a tight ball, drop into the flour. I recommend doing these in groups of 3-4 at a time, once you have 3-4 balls in the flour, shake off excess then put them into the egg mixture, making sure they get well coated, then drop them into the Panko mixture. Again, make sure they are covered well, shake off excess and place on the parchment lined baking sheet.
4. Once all of your balls are formed you're ready to fry them. The oil should be good and hot, they'll brown in less than a minute (probably about 20-30 seconds). Don't stop moving them, turn them over regularly, once they're a nice rich brown, get them out and back onto the baking sheet.
5. Heat the Arancini in the oven for 8-10 minutes, this will finish their cooking and melt the mozzarella inside. Serve immediately with your favorite tomato sauce!
* When making your risotto, I recommend adding 1/2 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese. Cool completely before covering and putting in the refrigerator, you do not want to trap any liquid in there.
Interesting tidbit: Cheese Arancini are known as Telefono or Telephone Fritters for the string or 'telephone line' of cheese that stretches between the two halves when broken open!
If anyone out there has suggestions on the frustrating ball forming portion of this, I'd love to hear it, as I will be making these again and again!
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