RICE BALLS

by - 5:15 AM

These are another favorite appetizer in Italy, the United States, and my house for
sure. Kids love them, particularly when the hidden treasure at the center is savory
prosciutto and oozing cheese. Pop these in your mouth, making sure, of course, they
are not too hot. Arborio rice is recommended in the recipe, but this dish can be
made with brown rice as well; just make sure you cook it long enough, and you will
need to use a bit more stock.
MAKES ABOUT 2 DOZEN
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup finely diced ham or prosciutto (about 3 ounces)
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into ½-inch cubes (you’ll need about 24 cubes)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups fine dry breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil for frying
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan; when the oil is hot, add the onion and cook
until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ham or prosciutto, and cook a few minutes,
until the meat begins to render its fat.
Add the rice, and cook to coat the rice in the oil and fat. Pour in the wine, bring to a
simmer, and cook until the wine is almost reduced away. Add 3 cups hot chicken stock
and the salt; cover, and simmer until the chicken stock is absorbed by the rice, about 7
to 8 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups stock, and cover, letting the rice cook until al
dente, about 6 to 7 minutes more. Stir in peas toward the end, and mix well; spread the
rice on a rimmed sheet pan to cool.
When the rice is cool, put it in a bowl and stir in the grated cheese and chopped basil.
Scoop out about ⅓ cup rice, roll into a loose ball, then poke a cube of mozzarella into
the center. Pat firmly to form a tight ball around the cheese.
Spread the flour and breadcrumbs on two rimmed plates, and beat the eggs in a
shallow bowl. Dredge the arancini in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip them one by
one in the beaten egg, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Roll in the
breadcrumbs to coat thoroughly.
Pour an inch of vegetable oil into a large straight-sided skillet set over medium heat.
Fry in batches, taking care not to crowd the skillet, turning on all sides, until golden,
about 3 minutes per batch. Drain the arancini on paper towels, and season with salt
while still warm.

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