Monday, July 26, 2010

Music Break - Arancini (Risotto Balls)

There are few things better than trotting home with a hard-drive filled with new music. Thus begins the discovery process: sifting through the new collection to find that rare gem that becomes your favorite song of the next few months. The one that, when you hear it in the years to come, brings back the memories of that point in time forever. The one that perpetually finds itself smack in the middle of nearly every future road-trip mix, a constant on compilation cd's for friends, the one that's on repeat on a lazy Sunday morning. The one you lend an earbud to a friend for..."you gotta hear this," you say as you share a pair, watching their face in happy anticipation and expectation, hoping they'll share your elation on discovering for themselves their own new favorite song.

A few months ago, it was this one:

and now, it's this one:

This blog has been in desperate need of music. By all means, if you have something you can't get out of your head, feel free to share in the comments. There's nothing I love more than new music.

But Arancini is a close runner-up.

I was excited to take Leah's class at Kitchen on Fire in Berkeley, I was even more excited when I found out we were going to be making Arancini. I've had a strange fear of deep-frying, and have been much too reluctant to try it out on my much oil. But it wasn't nearly as intimidating as I'd thought it would be. In fact, it was easy. Not to mention delicious. It's the perfect appetizer. Once you have risotto hanging out in your fridge, it's just a skip away from Arancini. And honestly, who doesn't love a deep fried rice ball?

Arancini (Risotto Balls)

Enough vegetable oil for deep frying
2 eggs, beaten to blend
2 cups cold risotto (recipe here)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
assorted ingredients for filling: we used goat cheese, fig, proscuitto, parmesan chunks...use whatever sounds delicious to you!
thermometer for monitoring the oil temperature
baking rack for cooling the arancini

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat about 3 inches of oil to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, risotto, 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan till well mixed. Place the remaining breadcrumbs in a medium sized bowl, and place about 2 tbsp of the risotto mixture in your hand, flattening it out into a disk. Make an indentation with your finger in the middle of the risotto disk, and place a small amount of your filling (goat cheese, fig, prosciutto, whatever) into the middle. Form the rice into a ball around the filling, and gently roll until firm and well-formed. Roll the balls in the bread crumb mixture to coat and set aside until you've formed them all.

Using a slotted spoon, add the balls to the oil in batches, cook until lightly brown and heated through. Cooking time will depend on the temperature of your oil, so keep a close eye on the color. It can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Possibly longer. Remove the balls with a slotted spoon and place on cooling racks with paper towels placed under the racks. Do not place directly on paper towels, or the arancini will become soft. You need air circulating all around to keep the crispy texture. Season with salt, and let rest for about 2 minutes until slightly cooled. Serve hot with a marinara dipping sauce.

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