Arancini aka Fried Risotto Balls

This versatile technique will turn any leftover risotto into the most satisfying junk food imaginable. If your motto is “if it’s fried, it’s gotta be good” you won’t be disappointed, these babies give the word ‘fried’ a whole new meaning by combining a crisp outer crust with a rich melting interior resulting in one of the best munchies ever invented. Originally a Sicilian street food i like to serve a miniature version as an amuse-bouche right before dinner.

This recipe was adapted and Zenified from a Daniel Boulud recipe in “Cooking In New York City” , but any risotto recipe will work perfectly, just follow the instructions for rolling, breading, freezing and frying and you’re on your way to a real treat.

Fennel Arancini w/ Piquillo Pepper Coulis

(makes about 50 amuse-bouche)
For the Coulis:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
6 piquillo peppers, seeds removed
2 tablespoons unsalted chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Warm the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, but not colored. Add the piquillo peppers and chicken stock and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender, add the lemon juice and purée until smooth. Set aside.

For the Risotto Balls:

1 fennel bulb: leaves separated and bulb cut into 1/8-inch dice
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
7 cups unsalted vegetable stock or low-sodium vegetable broth
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 small onion, trimmed, and cut into 1/8-inch dice
2 cups Arborio rice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 pound fontina cheese, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon pastis or anise liquor
1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese

Piquillo pepper coulis (from above)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup bread crumbs

Peanut oil for deep frying

1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fennel and blanch for 5 minutes. Add the parsley and cook 1 minute longer. Drain and hold under cold running water to cool. Squeeze the leaves to remove the excess moisture. In a blender, purée together the fennel and parsley leaves until bright green. Set aside.

2. Bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and keep the stock at a slow, steady simmer.

3. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel and cook, stirring, just until the onion is translucent but not colored, about 5 minutes. Add the rice, season with salt and pepper and cook, still stirring, for about 5 minutes longer. Add 1 cup of the hot stock. Cook, stirring often, until the rice absorbs most of the liquid. Add another cup of the hot stock and cook and stir as before. Continue cooking, stirring regularly and adding the stock 1 cup at a time, until 6 cups of stock have been added. At this point, taste the rice. Usually, the rice will need another 1/2 to 1 cup stock and a few more minutes to cook.

4. Stir in the fennel-parsley purée, the cheeses, fennel seeds, and pastis. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until cold.

5. With your hands, a spoon, or a small ice cream scoop, form balls 3/4- to 1-inch in diameter. Using your thumb, make a deep indentation in the center of each ball. Fill with 1/4 teaspoon piquillo pepper coulis, pinch the edges together to enclose the filling, and quickly roll between your palms to re-shape. Dip and coat each ball into the all-purpose flour, then into the eggs, and finally into the bread crumbs, making sure to coat them evenly and gently tapping off any excess. Place the balls on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and freeze for at least 2 hours.

6. Pour 3 to 4 inches of peanut oil into a deep pot and heat the oil until it reaches 325 degrees F on a deep-fat thermometer. Fry the balls in batches until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes for each batch. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lift the balls out of the oil and onto a paper towel-lined plate. Pat off any excess oil and season with salt. Serve immediately.

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  • SteamyKitchen

    Damn. Your balls look mighty fine.

  • Waliz

    waiterrr…gv me two balls pleaseee..and make sure its sizzzling hot okayyy…

  • A Z R A

    the balls looks yummy…. 😀

  • Ann

    I don’t know about your balls, but the arancini look delicious!

    Hey, you know anywhere I can take a food phtography class? I have GOT to get better at the camera work…

  • Claude-Olivier

    Sounds good ton histoire 😉 J’allais faire un jeu de mot à 2 balles, je vais m’abstenir 😉 bye

  • §pinzer

    I love balls. Where can I get them?

    At first I got up to attention (only me, nothing else) when you mentioned “leftover risottos” but i was clearly dejected as I read through the recipe and cooking method.. hardly what you’d call a “light snack” when it takes a day and a half to cook!

  • Zen Chef

    Ann…they look and they are delicious!
    For the photographs in my opinion it all depends on your camera and lighting. I have a really good Nikon camera but i’m only good at close-ups, i’m still reading the manual for the rest hehehe. I’m sure there are plenty of classes locally but from what i understand food photography is kind of complicated. I will check Craigslist!

  • Zen Chef

    hahahaha..Claude, elle est bonne quand meme ton histoire a 2 balles. hehehe

  • Zen Chef

    Spinzer dude!
    It looks more scary than it really is! You can cut the prep time by a day and a half by ordering some extra risotto to take home next time you go to an Italian restaurant. C’mon that’s your assignment! hehe

  • CookiePie

    Two of my favorite words: “fried” and “risotto” (I’m going to leave “balls” alone, since that’s gotten plenty of play already!). These look so delicious, I want to grab one off the screen and take a bite!

  • Zen Chef

    Thank you cookiepie!! I know we have reached new lows in this comment room hehehehehe. Who is the moderator anyway??
    This is a really good recipe, you should try it!

  • annna

    the balls looks yummylicious!

    but the methods to make them needs lotsa patience eh. I hate frying. OIL splat splat *ouch*

  • Patricia Scarpin

    Wow, these arancini are fabulous!
    I love risotto and love using left overs in such a delicious way.

  • Zen Chef

    Annna please don’t get hurt, this blog doesn’t have insurance! Low budget here 😉

  • Zen Chef

    Thanks patricia but i have to correct you, they are yummylicious! 😉

  • REK177

    One thing has stopped me from ever ordering these, and it’s really stupid: how on earth do you pronounce arancini?