Recipe from Domestic Chic: A Fashionably Fabulous Guide to Cooking & Entertaining by the Seasons cookbook by Kristin Sollenne
One of my favorite dishes to make is risotto. It’s my go-to way to incorporate whatever meats and/or veggies I may have on hand into a “gourmet” meal. So when I first encountered arancini (Italian for “little oranges”), I couldn’t wait to taste them. Basically, arancini are rice balls that are stuffed with goodies, coated with breadcrumbs, and fried. Or, as I like to call them, deep-fried risotto balls!
Cooking these myself was another matter entirely. I don’t fry. That’s what restaurants are for, right? And then I found Kristin Sollenne’s family recipe, which calls for lightly pan-frying the rice balls on each side and finishing them in the oven (no deep-frying). That I can do…
This isn’t a difficult recipe, but it is time-consuming, involving several steps: cooking two sauces; forming, coating, frying, and baking the rice balls.
Making arancini is also messy. You’ll use (and need to wash) lots of pans and dishes, and you’ll be prepping with your hands, literally. I’ve decided that the next time I make this recipe — which will be soon, because these are so good — I’ll prepare the balls ahead of time. I plan to freeze them pre-coating or put them in the refrigerator pre-baking, depending on the timeframe. Either would work perfectly for entertaining.
Another consideration is the size and amount. None of the recipes in Domestic Chic give serving amounts — perhaps because Chef Kristin Sollenne is accustomed to cooking for crowds? Seeing that this recipe called for 3 cups of rice and knowing that I was cooking for only two, I cut the recipe in half. Since I wasn’t sure how large to make the balls, I went with even smaller “little oranges” (about the size of ping-pong balls).
The next time I may also try chilling the rice mixture before forming the balls. The Domestic Chic cookbook has a second recipe for arancini, which I didn’t realize until later. (There’s no index, which I strongly suggest should be added for the 2nd edition.) The other recipe notes to chill the rice mixture for at least 2 hours before forming the balls. This might make forming the balls a bit easier. I promise to let you know which way works better.
But either way, this dish is worth the time (and the dishes). We served it with sauteed summer squash and zucchini, the requisite (for me) crusty bread, and of course a fun Italian Chianti. We had plenty left over for a second easy supper (served with a green salad) later in the week.
Note: When it became clear that I had enough of the ground beef sauce left over to use as a topping and for dipping, I didn’t make the Nonna Dina’s Sauce (being the lazy cook that I am). But I’m crazy for a simple red sauce and look forward to testing this one. If any of you try the recipe, I’d love to hear your results.
I now have a new favorite recipe for using whatever veggies, meat, and cheese I find in my fridge — as well as leftover risotto! Mushrooms, truffles, spinach, squash, bacon, pancetta, peas, corn, and of course cheese. Lots of glorious goodies can be stuffed into these little bites of deliciousness. They’re worth your time.
Thanks to Waldorf Publishing, we’re giving away a copy of Domestic Chic: A Fashionably Fabulous Guide to Cooking & Entertaining by the Seasons to one lucky Cooks&Books&Recipes reader. Be sure to enter the giveaway here (contest ends 10/5/15).
Sollenne Family Rice Balls
Featured Recipe From: Domestic Chic: A Fashionably Fabulous Guide to Cooking & Entertaining by the Seasons
Yield: approximately 20 rice balls
3 cups Arborio rice
2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 (6 oz) tomato paste
1 cup peas
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups plain bread crumbs (panko)
Vegetable oil for frying the rice balls
Nonna Dina’s Sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 29 oz. can tomato sauce
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh basil, torn
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
Sauté chopped garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onions and then ground beef and brown on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, tomato paste,1 cup Pecorino cheese grated, 1 cup peas and 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded. Cook about 15 minutes.
Boil water, and cook rice. When rice is done stir in butter. Add 1 cup of grated Pecorino, 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and mix well together. Season with sea salt and pepper. Cool rice mixture. Once cooled, scoop out rice and form into a ball. Take your thumb and form a thumbprint in the middle of the ball. Fill with meat mixture and then reform into an enclosed ball.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs, and roll rice balls into the eggs, then panko bread crumbs. Heat vegetable oil and lightly fry rice balls on each side for 3-4 minutes. Remove from oil and poke with a tooth pick. Finish in the oven at 400 degrees for two to three minutes, until outside is nice and crispy.
Nonna Dina’s Sauce (for dipping)
Saute the first three ingredients for 3 to 5 minutes.
Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, and three cans of water, filled in the tomato paste can.
Add basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
© 2015 Kristin Sollenne
Reprinted with permission from Domestic Chic: A Fashionably Fabulous Guide to Cooking & Entertaining by the Seasons by Kristin Sollenne (Waldorf Publishing)