My daughter recently returned from holiday in Milan, raving about the Arancini di Riso.
Arancini di Riso are actually Sicilian in origin: stuffed saffron rice balls, usually filled with meat, mozzarella and peas. As my daughter is a great mushroom lover, I decided to create my own version in her honour. And in all modesty I am mighty pleased with the result.
The name means ‘little oranges’ in Italian, and refers to their shape and colour after cooking. They are quite exacting and time-consuming to make, but the result is heavenly.
I like to serve them with a piquant tomato sauce.
Ingredients (makes 8 arancini di riso):
45ml olive oil
1 onion, chopped
250g risotto rice
1 pinch of saffron
100ml Pinot Grigio (or other Italian dry white wine)
1l vegetable stock
35g parmesan cheese
1 tsp lemon juice
25g carrot, finely chopped
25g celery, finely chopped
150g mixed mushrooms
10g dried porcini mushrooms
50g frozen pea
400g tinned tomatoes
75g buffalo mozzarella
25g plain flour
sunflower oil fro frying
- Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the 15ml of oil. Add half the chopped onion and sweat for 5 minutes or so until the onion is soft but not browned.
- Increase the heat to medium and add the rice. Sauté for about 5 minutes stirring constantly. Add the saffron and stir again.
- Add the wine and stir occasionally until it is absorbed.
- Add the stock, a ladle at a time and stir it into the rice. Allow it to become absorbed before adding the next ladle. The rice is cooked when it is slightly al dente, but NOT chalky. This will probably take about 30 minutes, and might not require all the stock.
- Stir in the parmesan cheese and lemon juice and allow the rice to cool.
- While the rice is cooling, soak the porcini in a little hot water. Chop the mixed mushrooms small (duxelles sized), place in the centre of a clean tea towel, gather the corners of the tea towel together, and twist to expel as much liquid from the mushrooms as possible, collecting the liquid in a bowl.
- Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan, and add the onion, celery and carrot and sauté gently for about 5 minutes. Scrape the mushrooms from the tea towel into the frying pan. Increase the heat, and sauté for a further 10 minutes or so until the mushrooms start to brown.
- Drain and chop the porcini, reserving the soaking liquid. Add to the frying pan along with the soaking liquid, and add the liquid squeezed out of the mushrooms.
- Now add the tomatoes (chop them small if they are whole), peas and half the parsley. Adjust the seasoning, and simmer for about 15 minutes, adding any remaining vegetable stock or water as necessary to prevent the mixture from becoming too dry.
- Add the remaining parsley and allow to cool.
- To assemble the arancini, divide the rice into 8 equal portions and shape into balls . Divide the mushroom mixture into 8 equal portions.
- Take a rice ball and make a hollow in the centre with your index finger. Fill the hollow with the mushroom mixture, and add about 1/8 of the mozzarella. Seal the rice around the mushroom mixture.
- Dust the ball with flour, and make the remaining 7 arancini the same way.
- Beat the eggs and add to a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs to a separate bowl. Dip each arancini in beaten egg and roll in breadcrumbs.
- Heat a generous quantity of sunflower oil in a deep pan. Deep fry the arancini, a few at a time until golden (about minutes). Drain any surplus oil on kitchen paper.