A few weeks back I featured a Fig and Prosciutto Arancini recipe. One of the great things about Arancini is that you can take the basic recipe and change the flavors up by varying the stuffing. This slightly more traditional but no less tasty variation with smoked mozzarella and basil comes from my sister in-law, Diana. Another great thing about these little stuffed rice balls is that they are actually pretty versatile. They make for a great finger food for a casual party, or you can dress them up and serve as an antipasto for a nice sit down dinner. You are actually pretty likely to find some fancied up version of this Sicilian street food on the menu of an upscale restaurant nowadays.
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 tablespoons butter
- ½ medium onion, chopped fine
- 1-1/2 cups arborio rice
- ½ cup white wine
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 eggs beaten
- ¾ cup breadcrumbs plus extra for coating the rice balls
- ¼ cup finely chopped basil
- ¼ pound smoked mozzarella cheese cut into small cubes
- vegetable oil for frying
- In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until the rice is well coated and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the wine to the rice and cook, stirring, until most of the wine evaporates and then add a 4 to 6 ounce ladle of simmering broth and cook, stirring occasionally, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pot clean as you stir, until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Continue adding the broth a ladle at a time, stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed before adding more.
- After about 20 minutes begin to taste the rice. It is ready when it is tender and creamy, but still a little firm to the bite.
- Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and ½ cup of Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese until well mixed. Remove the risotto from the heat and let cool.
- In a large bowl mix the risotto, eggs, ¾ cup breadcrumbs, ½ cup Parmagiano-Reggiano and basil.
- Spread extra breadcrumbs in a plate for coating. Take two tablespoons of rice in one hand, make a hole using your finger and stuff it with the 1 or 2 pieces of the smoked mozzarella cheese. Seal the hole and mold the rice into a ball about 2 inches in diameter. Roll the ball in the breadcrumbs, making sure not to leave any spots uncovered.
- Place the ball on a tray and repeat with the remaining ingredients. It should make about 20 rice balls
- Line a tray with paper towels and pour about 3 inches of vegetable oil in a deep heavy saucepan.
- Heat the oil to a temperature of 375°F and fry the arancini, a few at a time, turning until they are golden brown.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain. Serve while still warm.
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