I enjoy making food that can be altered to fit a cuisine, taste preference or dietary need. Arancini fits that bill. Traditionally, arancini are coated rice balls stuffed with a ragu, mozzarella and peas. The fillings and shape are largely regional across Italy, and a wide variety of rice and fillings can be combined in lieu of the traditional ingredients.
Arancini can be made days or even weeks in advance, then stored in the freezer until you are ready to cook them. They hold their heat well so you can fry them at home, take them to a party and simply re-crisp them in an oven.
Many thanks to Chef Dominic Orsini and our friends at Silver Oak Winery in Napa, Calif. who provided the original recipe from which this version was adapted. Flathead Valley Community College’s 2015 Festival of Flavors Napa Valley Summer Affair featured these arancini, and I have since fielded many requests for the recipe.
In a small sauce pot, combine:
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1 Tbsp. salt
Bring to a simmer then cover with a tight-fitting lid and immediately turn to the lowest heat setting. Let simmer until all the water has been absorbed by the rice.
Mix in the following ingredients with the rice:
- 1/2 cup crème fraiche (or sour cream)
- 8 oz. Dungeness crab meat, cleaned and squeezed of excess liquid
- 2 lemons, juice and zest
- 1 Tbsp. tarragon
Pour rice mixture onto a cookie sheet, spread out evenly and let cool in the refrigerator. Once cool, roll the mixture into little balls. If the rice is not binding together, add some bread crumbs and mix.
In three separate small bowls, place each of the following ingredients:
- 1 cup flour
- 2 cups eggs, beaten
- 2 cups bread crumbs
One by one, coat each ball with flour, then dip into egg mixture and finish with coat of bread crumbs. Shake off the excess bread crumbs.
At this point you may cook immediately, or you can put into the refrigerator for up to a day or freeze for a later use.
When you are ready to fry the arancini, preheat one quart of vegetable oil to 350 degrees. Fry until golden brown on all sides. If the arancini are frozen, let thaw at room temperature for an hour before frying.
Jonathon Hartig is the Executive Sous Chef/Instructional Assistant at The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College. For more information about the program, visit www.culinaryinstituteofmt.com.
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