The transformation of leftovers is a beautiful thing. Yesterday wine and cheese became risotto and today that risotto transformed into arancini. Never heard of it? Maybe you’ve heard of rice balls. The first time I had them was at St. Anthony’s Festival in Boston’s North End during college. I hunted for a recipe or even a second chance of eating them in a restaurant with absolutely no luck. At least until finding pre-made arancini in the grocery store freezer section a few year later. They’re located in the freezer section with all of the other dinner party style appetizers! I may have gone through a few bags of those at the time… More recently, I made a flat version of them during a cooking class back in November. This time I wanted to go slightly more traditional with the irresistable ooey-gooey center and enjoyed home-made, classic arancini!
To make these guys, I started with an assembly line: warmed salted butter (liquid), breadcrumbs, cold risotto straight from the fridge and classic French Hannahbells that I had found a while back at the Massachusett’s Cheese Festival. Essentially you take a scoop of risotto out of the pot, flatten on your fingers in a thin layer (you should only have enough rice so that if just covers them – I think I used a little under a quarter of a cup of rice per ball), place a piece of the cheese in the center and then curl your fingers together so that the cheese is coated with rice. Next up: dunk it into the butter followed by the breadcrumbs and set it on the pan to wait until all the balls are ready to go into a 400F oven. It took about 15 minutes for mine to bake in a convection oven.
The results? Crispy, cheesey bites all the way around with the bottoms had an extra buttery delicious-ness factor to them. Yes, hannahbells were a rather unconventional choice for interior so maybe I’ll use mozzarella next time? I’ve also heard of beef or peas going on the inside so there are plenty of choices! Another perfect choice for more leftovers. Finally, three arancini that size were just enough for a meal with a little bit of sauce! I basically inhaled them…
…and I just realized that I could fill them with smoked mozzarella. Yep. Next time!