Arancine (Daring Cooks Challenge Jan 2014)

risotto ball3

risotto ball4

We ended 2013 with a feast of Arancine, salad and Christmas pudding! My husband’s task of making the risotto rice wasn’t entirely successful, but it was edible. The risotto rice came out on the dry & hard side, so we added more liquid than the recipe stated, a bit too much liquid so the rice ended up on the soft (slimy) side. I prepared the fillings & moulded the balls in advance when the baby was sleeping.  So it wall all ready to go on New Year’s eve which meant more time to spend with the family & less time cooking. Instead of frying, I decided to bake (GM6 for 30mins) as I was worried they would fall apart. My Arancine were filled with chorizo, red pepper and olives, and smoked salmon, goat cheese and spring onion. These were coated with flour mixed with zaatar and paprika. These were easy to eat with a fork in one hand & baby on lap. Tasty New Year’s eve treat!

risotto ball5

Smoked salmon, goat cheese, spring onion with zaatar coating

risotto ball1

chorizo, red pepper, olives with paprika coating

risotto ball2

January’s Daring Cooks’ challenge was a ball! The lovely Manu from Manu’s Menu brought our taste buds to the streets of Sicily and taught us her family tradition of making arancine – filled and fried balls of risotto. Delizioso!

Download the printable file HERE

Preparation time:
15 minutes to make risotto; 15 to 60 minutes for the filling (depending on what you fill the arancine with); 45 to 60 minutes for the assembly and a total of 30 minutes for frying (in batches). This dish can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and then fried just before eating.

Equipment required:
• Wooden spoons
• Knives
• Bowls and plates
• Colander (for spinach)
• Cheese grater
• Cling wrap
• Baking paper
• Frying pans
• Pots

Saffron Risotto

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
4 tablespoons (60 ml) (55 gm) (2 oz) butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1½ tablespoons saffron threads
3 cups (750 ml) (600 gm) (21 oz) Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice
½ cup (120 ml) white wine or extra stock or water
About 4 cups (1 litre) beef stock (depending on cooking time)
½ cup (120 ml) (55 gm) (2 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated

1. Start by putting the stock in a pot and heat until hot. The stock has to be hot all the time while you are cooking risotto, so that the rice temperature does not drop when you add the stock to it.
2. Put the finely chopped onion and the extra virgin olive oil in a pot and let it cook on a slow (low) heat, until the onion becomes soft and transparent.
3. Add the rice, mix well and let it cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until the rice becomes translucent.
4. Now pour in the white wine and let the alcohol burn off by cooking on a high flame.
5. Then add enough stock to cover the rice and turn the heat to medium-low.
6. Keep cooking, occasionally stirring the rice and adding stock little by little, until the rice is a little more than half cooked. It is going to take about 13 minutes (NOTE – the rice HAS to be undercooked at this stage as it will keep cooking until it cools down completely. By the end of the process it will be just right).
7. After approximately 8 minutes add the saffron and keep cooking.
8. After the 13 minutes are up, turn the heat off and add the butter and Parmigiano Reggiano to your risotto. Mix very well, until it becomes creamy, but dry (if it’s too moist, you will have a hard time making balls out of it). Check for salt and season to your liking

9. Pour on a sheet of baking paper, spread well and allow to cool down completely.

Béchamel Sauce
1 cup (250 ml) milk, hot
¼ stick (25 ml) (25 gm) (1 oz) butter
2¾ tablespoons (40 ml) (25 gm) (1 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 pinch salt
1 pinch nutmeg

1. Put the butter in a non-stick pot and let it melt. Add the flour and whisk constantly until well incorporated: this is the “roux”. Let it cook for a minute or two.
2. Now start adding hot milk little by little, while mixing continuously until the milk is well incorporated. Do not add more milk unless it is well incorporated. Keep doing so until all the milk is incorporated.
3. Add salt and nutmeg and cook it on a low flame for 10 minutes or until it thickens.

4. When ready, cover it (with plastic wrap) to prevent a film to appear on the surface.
Note: If you still get a lumpy sauce, do not throw it out. You can still save it and make it smooth by using a hand stick blender.

Arancine agli Spinaci – Arancine with Spinach

For the Spinach
7 oz (200 gm) wilted spinach, chopped
1 garlic clove
2½ teaspoons butter
Salt to taste

To Assemble
Saffron Risotto (as per above recipe)
250 ml (1 cup) béchamel sauce (as per above recipe)
2-1/3 oz (65 gm) Mozzarella, diced
Egg white
Vegetable oil for frying

1. Sauté the garlic with the butter. Add the wilted spinach and mix well. Cook for a couple of minutes. Season with salt to taste.

2. Make the béchamel sauce as per the above recipe.
3. Make the Saffron Risotto as per the recipe provided and let it cool down.
4. When the rice has cooled down, make 10 to 12 balls with it and then open them by putting your thumb in one side. The hole has to be quite large to allow you to fill them as much as possible with the stuffing.
5. Fill them with 1 tablespoon of béchamel sauce and 1 tablespoon of spinach. Add some chopped mozzarella and close the balls with your hands. Keep them aside.

6. Roll them in egg white (slightly beaten with the fork) and in a mixture of flour and breadcrumbs (half and half). – see picture in Arancine al Ragu’-
7. Shallow fry in vegetable oil until golden brown. Serve warm.

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
You can prepare the fillings 1 day before you want to assemble your arancine. You can also assemble your arancine up to 2 days before frying them. Cover them with foil and keep them in the fridge. When you want to eat them, remember to take them out of the fridge a few hours in advance (they need to come back to room temperature) or the inside will remain cold even after frying them.

Additional Information:
Here is a video on how to fill and shape arancine:


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