And I’m keeping with the Italian theme, this time with saffron arancini with mozzarella. These beautiful rice balls are a favourite of my boyfriend and every so often he asks for it. I know that it’s quite easy to find them ready madealmost everywhere here but I still think that what we make at home tastes so much better!
Basically, for those not familiar with the word “arancini”, these are small stuffed rice balls which are coated in bread crumbs and then deep fried. Usually they are stuffed with ragu (meat & tomato sauce), mozzarella and peas.
They say Arancini was created in Sicily in the 10th century during the Arab rule. In Palermo and Trapani, arancini are the traditional food for the Feast of Sta Lucia (13th December) when you can’t eat bread and pasta. Today, arancini are found all year around as a snack and a good way to use left-over risotto.
On my first attempt to make arancini,things didn’t turn out that well. I didn’t research before starting and I though that it was just rice with some stuffing. And because the recipe was all wrong, when I tried to stuff it the rice wouldn’t stay together and when I tried to fry them, the balls just kept opening. So this time, I’ve done my home work: some research and I found out that it’s best to make it with risotto. This way the rice is sticky and will stay together. Then I read that saffron risotto is the best option. And because I had some mozarella at home almost reaching the “use by date” I decided to keep it simple and just use it for the stuffing instead of ragu. Guess what? It turned out perfect: the rice was nice and sticky so it was easy to make the stuffed balls and it stayed together when I fried it 🙂 Result: a nice dinner of arancini and green salad and a very happy boyfriend 🙂
Saffron Arancini With Mozzarella
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion finely diced
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 pinches saffron
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup of parmesan cheese
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 ball of mozzarella diced
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until rice is evenly coated in oil and toasted but not browned, 3-4 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring, until the alcohol has fully evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of warm stock and 1 pinch of saffron. Scrape any grains of rice or pieces of onion from the sides of the pan so that they are fully submerged; season with salt. When the liquid has mostly evaporated, stir in 1 more cup of stock and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has mostly evaporated. Stir in 1/4 cup of stock at a time until rice is just tender and has formed the texture of a thick porridge. Season with salt and pepper.
- Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese and 2 tbsp of butter.
- Spray a baking sheet with oil and lay the rice on it, spreading it in a thin, even layer. Let the rice cool down as much as possible.
- Meanwhile, place the breadcrumbs in a deep plate. Break the eggs into another plate and whisk.
- When the rice is cool enough to handle, scoop a small handful (about 1/4 cup) of rice in one hand (don't wet your hands) and form it into a flat disk. Place a small pieces of mozzarella in center of disk and fold rice around it to form a sphere with the cheese in the center.
- Roll the rice ball in the egg and in the breadcrumbs. Set aside and repeat the process until you use all the rise.
- Fill a large pan with a good quantity of oil and heat. Gently set a rice ball on a slotted spoon and lower it into the oil. Repeat with the remaining rice balls, working in batches and topping up oil as needed. Fry rice balls until golden brown, then, using a slotted spoon or spider, lift them one by one from the oil, allowing excess oil to drip off, then transfer to paper towel-lined baking sheets or plates. Let cool slightly, then serve.