EVEN BETTER SECOND TIME AROUND.
I don't make risotto very often, which is perhaps why when I do, I make far too much. But never mind, I think risotto is actually better the next day — not reheated in its same form (actually that ruins it), but turned in to another dish altogether — arancini.
Little balls of risotto filled with tasty things. That could be meat, spinach and ricotta or cheese. If going the cheese route, taleggio is my go-to choice. It's got a great mature taste and gets very stringy indeed. I like to sit it inside a big basil leaf before encasing the whole lot in cole Milanese risotto — risotto made using saffron, and in this case, red peppers, which I like on account of the honeyed flavour the saffron brings.
Eat a basket of them as a snack, or serve them as I did on Saturday as a dinner party starter, with a roasted red pepper, lemon and chilli dip. I think my guests giggling them as they licked their plates was a pretty good sign they enjoyed them, I hope you do too.
- Use any leftover risotto you have and try not to make the balls too large.
- Now, this is going to make me sound incredibly sad, but after making a few batches I’ve decided the ideal size is 50g each. That’s 45g for the rice (which is about a large tablespoons worth) and 5g for the little cheese cube. Call me a kitchen geek if you like but it works.
- And the only last thing to say on the little balls of deliciousness is to be imaginative with your dips. Arancini are great with everything from the red pepper sauce to pesto or even Bloody Mary sauce.
For 15 arancini
- 675g cold cooked Milanese risotto
- 75g taleggio cheese, diced into 15 small dice
- 15 big basil leaves
- 150g plain flour
- 2-3 beaten eggs
- C200g breadcrumbs, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper
- 1L cooking oil such as groundnut
- Kitchen paper for draining
- Get a large bowl of warm water and a plate next to the risotto pot, then using a tablespoon scoop the cold risotto into the palm of your hand a tablespoon at a time.
- With wet hands (stops it sticking to much) pack it together between your palms and flatten it out a little, then place the cheese dice onto the basil and in the centre of the risotto and close your hand, effectively bringing the risotto up around the cheese and trapping it inside.
- Roll the ball gently in your hand so the rice is tightly packed and the cheese can’t be seen, then place it onto a plate, rinse your hands and the spoon in the water and repeat the process. It doesn't take long to get the hang of and get them all done.
- Once all have been made, one by one lightly coat them in the flour, then the beaten egg followed by the panko, and set aside on another plate.
- Bring your oil to temperature either in a deep bottomed saucepan or a deep fryer, to 170°C.
- Carefully lower the balls into the hot oil and cook for around 8 minutes, remembering to turn them if you're not doing them in a deep fryer.
- Remove and drain on kitchen paper, then eat with the dip of your choice.