Arancini is one of those foods that I ate for a long time, but never knew what they were called. Growing up in a half Italian household, we often called things by their English names. Similarly, being raised in Brooklyn in the thirties in an immigrant family, Serafina, my grandmother, adjusted her name to Fran to be more American. Isn’t that amazing? Such a beautiful name, one that I feel honored to be able to give to my daughter as a tribute to my grandmother, marked with foreigness? I guess that is why I teach American History. Although I call her Serafina on the blog, and I have an obvious affection for her name, it still feels awkward to type my grandmother’s Italian name. However, in a post-Anglocentric America, Italian food and words became trendy. As I have previously mentioned, I rediscover recipes on the Food Network only to realize that their trendy Italian food was the food of my youth. Their Frittata is my Italian omelet. Arancini, or risotto balls, fits this evolution. Composed of risotto, cheese, and breadcrumbs, little arancini balls are perfect lightly fried and served with tomato sauce.
This could be added to the list of recipes which previously intimidated me. However, with every new recipe I learn new things.
- As someone who has never made meatballs or hamburgers, I realized that when I packed the risotto, I was too gentle. I treated them as if little Serafina was holding them in her hands. Instead, you need to use your strength to mush the risotto into a soft sphere.
- I am a messy chef, and it will never change. We have an intimate galley kitchen, and I don’t think a bigger kitchen will solve this.
- Oil splatter to the eye hurts. No really, it does. AAM made me put on his laser pointer goggles, and well, lets just say I looked awesome. Aren’t you jealous?
- Sometimes leftovers can be a good thing; this recipe works better with day old risotto.
- Some recipes called for a finite breading mix amount, where it just works better to see how good the risotto you are working with is.
- And the most important lesson? Although a recipe may have many steps, it doesn’t mean it is hard.
- 2 cups of cooked risotto, leftovers refrigerated for 24 hours is perfect
- 2 cups of flour (possibly more depending on the moisture of the risotto)
- 2 cups of bread crumbs (possibly more depending on the moisture of the risotto)
- 1 tb dried basil
- 1 tb dried oregano
- salt and pepper
- 2 egg whites (possibly more depending on the moisture of the risotto)
- mozzarella cubed into 1″ pieces
- Canola Oil
- 3 cups of homemade sauce
- Fill the bottom of a deep iron saucepan or wok with 1″ of canola oil. Heat on low, then slowly raise the heat
- Set up a breading station, one bowl with flour, the next with egg whites, and finally the breadcrumbs with basil/oregano/salt/pepper.
- Take 1 tb of risotto and place a piece of mozzarella inside. Smoosh the risotto around the mozzarella. Be firm.
- Next, sprinkle the flour over the risotto.
- Then roll the ball in the egg whites.
- Finally, roll it through the bread crumb mixture. Set aside.
- Repeat this until you finish the risotto.
- Raise the heat on the stove to medium.
- Freeze your arancini for 2 minutes, while you clean up your kitchen.
- Then, set up your frying station. A large cooking slotted spoon to move the arancini to the pan with oil, a wooden spoon/spatula to move the arancini around, and a final dish for your arancini, with a slotted bamboo scoop to retrieve the done portion.
- Lay several pieces into the pan, and let fry. Roll them over every 20 seconds or so to ensure it doesn’t stick and that the piece fries evenly. When done, place on a piece of paper towel.
- Repeat until you are done.
- Serve on top of warmed pasta sauce.
We enjoyed our arancini with asparagus roasted with red pepper flakes and olive oil. Cooked similarly to this broccolini recipe. However, depending on the size of the asparagus, it needs less time in the oven.