Sunday, February 14, 2016

Arancini - Rice Balls Stuffed with Mozzarella in Tomato Sauce

Arancini are street food of the gods...or so they tell me. While I have not actually eaten them on the streets of Italy, once discovered about 25 years ago they have made the regular rounds in my cooking repertoire.

Arriving at the table looking like meatballs in sauce, they are actually crunchy morsels of rice wrapped around a cube of mozzarella and doused in your favorite tomato sauce. Such deliciousness!

It was shocking to realize that there was no arancini post on this blog, so naturally I whipped up a batch to remedy the situation. These are stuffed with cheese, but apparently the Italians will stuff them with ragu (meat and tomato sauce), or peas and mozzarella, which all sound tasty but too complicated for me.

For this meal I also made a grilled smoky chard dish that had garlic breadcrumbs so I showered some on the arancini, great move!

Traditional arancini are usually made with white rice but brown rice has always been my choice. I like the nubby nutty texture and taste better than white rice, and it makes for a healthier meal (despite frying them in oil!)

Arancini  (makes 8 golf size balls)
(serves 2)

1/2 cup brown rice
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 egg
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan or asiago cheese
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1/2 inch cubes mozzarella (or small fresh mozzarella balls cut in half)
oil for frying
tomato sauce for serving

Add rice, water and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil to put with a cover and bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cover and cooked until all water is evaporated. Place rice in mixing bowl and mash with a fork to break up some of the kernels; allow to cool for 15 minutes. Add egg, bread crumbs, cheese and parsley and mix well. It should be a sticky mixture that holds together well. Season with salt and pepper.

Moisten your hands with water and form into mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball, pressing a piece of mozzarella into the center and closing the ball around it.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Add 1/4 inch of oil to the pan and fry balls on all sides until browned and crispy. Serve with tomato sauce and more grated cheese if desired.


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