Thursday, May 24, 2007

Arancini (Leftover Risotto)

It's the sequel you've been waiting for... arancini!

I posted about these things once before, when we went to eat at L'Appetito in Glenview. They are so named because they look like little oranges, which is the literal translation of the word in Italian or Sicilian. But appearances aside, it ain't health food.

Personally, though, I don't think they're so bad now and then. Because of the size, one is really a meal. We had ours with a green salad (which always takes the curse off a little). And veggies and cheese are good for you! Mangiare!

They were really easy to make. I had the prepared risotto in the fridge overnight. Then I shaped them into smallish orange-sizes in my hands. I had the beloved Siciliano egg-wash set up: one bowl with a couple beaten eggs, one with white flour, and one with Japanese (panko) breadcrumb -- though you can use regular (I just thought this might give a finer, crunchier consistency). I'd do it again. (It was crunch-arrific).

Before rolling, I poked a nice hunk of mozzarella cheese into the center of each ball and re-covered it. I used the shrink-wrapped cheese for this, because the fresh buffalo mozzarella in water tends to be too watery for this kind of thing... Then I rolled it in white flour, then egg, then breadcrumb. Then I dropped each into a few inches of olive oil that was plenty hot. I just turned them until they were golden brown on all sides. When we cut into them, the fork crunched through the center, and the cheese gooshed out.

Oh man. Look at that mesmerizing, hot puddle of cheese. Tell the truth -- if I told you to go slap your momma right now, you'd do it, wouldn't you?

When I was done with all the risotto I had, I was left with this hot oil and egg-wash setup, all willing and able. So I cut the rest of the cheese that I had into long strips, and breaded and fried that, too. When it came out and was draining on a paper towel, I salted it and seasoned it with a little Adobo seasoning and Italian seasoning mix. Oh lord. We may have enjoyed the cheese sticks most of all. And with the panko, you could hear the crunch next door, probably.

Just don't leave them in the oil too long -- the cheese gets very melty and may come right out of the breading.

All of this reheated very nicely in the oven the next day, too, although the arancini fared better than the cheese sticks at retaining their outer crunch and flavor. I would recommend making a pig of yourself on those the very first day when they are freshly fried. (Have some salad for a couple of days afterwards, and you'll be able to suppress those voices of regret pretty darn easily, I promise). I think the arancini may even freeze well, which I'll try the next time.

For any male in the house, of course fried balls provide an endless source of puns and comedy. I'm just warning you so that you're prepared for a lot of crassness and mugging.

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