I knew I was probably getting into trouble when I put arancini on the list for last week’s poll, but I couldn’t help myself! I also couldn’t think of too many other foods that were round.
It’s not really the most summer-y dish in the world (hot oil, hot stove, hot risotto), but I wanted to try to make this version as summer-y as possible. So I came up with the idea of folding in fresh corn into the risotto. It gave it a wonderful sweetness.
Now, I’ll be completely honest. I’m not sure that I would ever make this just to make arancini. The risotto is fantastic on it’s own. So I’d encourage you to make that as a meal, but maybe double the batch, and then make arancini with the leftovers the next day or something!
1) Cut your corn off the cob and add it to a large pan over medium-high heat with 2 Tablespoons of butter. Cook for a few minutes until it soft, but not browned. Remove it and set aside.
2) Add 2 Tablespoons oil and butter to the same pan and the chopped onion. Cook until soft, but not browned, just a few minutes.
3) Add risotto rice to pan and cook for 30-60 seconds to heat the rice.
4) Deglaze the pan with white wine (or water) an stir.
5) Start adding hot chicken stock to the rice 1/2 Cup at a time and stir continuously until rice is translucent and soft, but has a slight bite. Keep adding chicken stock as the rice dries out. After 30-40 minutes the rice should be cooked through.
6) Stir corn back into risotto along with Parmesan cheese and taste for salt and pepper.
7) Cool risotto completely. It'll probably take 4 hours in the fridge. Overnight is best though.
8) Mix your bread crumbs and spices together and cube cheese when you're ready to make the arancini.
9) Take a small spoonful of risotto and add a cube of cheese to the center. Do this with all the risotto and set the finished balls on a baking sheet.
10) Once all the balls are formed, dip each ball in egg wash and then coat in the spiced bread crumb mix.
11) Allow the balls to set up in the fridge for at least an hour.
12) Fry the balls in 350 degree oil until they are a deep golden brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel for a minute before serving.
Making the Risotto
Like I said, I never really plan to make just arancini (except this time). I usually just make extra risotto and then use the leftovers for arancini.
I think people are intimidated by risotto, but I honestly think it’s a chef’s trick. It’s almost like they don’t want you to know how easy it is to make because then they couldn’t charge you $20 for a 1 Cup serving of it.
I digress… let’s make some.
You’ll need to start with some really nice fresh corn. If you just can’t find this, you can use frozen, but you can’t use canned. Not allowed.
Also, when you’re searching for Arborio rice, it’ll sometimes be in a box called “Risotto Rice” or something like that. This will be expensive. I don’t recommend buying it that way.
I recommend finding a place that sells it bulk (even Whole Foods does). Then you can scoop out as much as you want. It usually runs like $1.50-$2/pound which actually makes this meal pretty affordable.
I keep my rice in a big plastic container.
Start this dish by melting 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Once it’s melted add all your corn after you cut it off the cob.
Let this cook for a few minutes until the corn is soft, but not browned. It should smell like, well, corn.
Once your corn is done, remove it from the pan, add another 2 Tablespoons of butter and 2 Tablespoons of oil. Once that’s hot, add your chopped onion and let the onion cook down until it’s soft over medium-high heat. Again, you don’t want them really browned, just soft.
Then add all your rice!
The risotto process is always the same from here on out:
1) Cook your rice in the dry pan for about 30 seconds, stirring continuously.
2) Deglaze the pan with your white wine. It’ll sizzle! Continue to stir. If you aren’t using white wine, you could just use water.
3) Start ladling in your hot chicken (or veg) stock about 1/2 cup at a time. Keep slowly stirring.
4) When the rice is looking dry, add more stock.
Remember. There’s no need to stir aggressively. Sometimes people make risotto a workout. It doesn’t need to be that. Heck. You can even walk away from it for a minute or two. The rice will never know!
After about 25 minutes of this, you should be almost home. You’re rice will have expanded a lot.
Always taste risotto as it cooks. Is it crunchy? Needs more stock. Does it have a tiny bite to it? Perfect. You don’t want it soggy.
When you’re at a consistency that tastes good to you, stir in your corn and also your grated Parm! Now would be a good time to taste for salt and pepper also. It’ll probably need a good pinch of both.
You’ve worked hard. Eat this now while it’s hot and at it’s best. Save the arancini for the next day.
The next day!
One reason why you really don’t want to jump right into the arancini is because your risotto needs to cool completely before you even attempt it. If you plan on making it the same day, you need to make your risotto early and let it cool for at least 4 hours!
When you’re ready though, you’ll need a few extra things. Starting with cheese!
I used a really sharp cheddar for mine. In hindsight, I think I might have used something spicy like Pepper Jack.
You’ll also need some eggs lightly beaten to coat the arancini and then finally a bread crumb mixture. Spice goes very well with corn so I added a big pinch of cayenne to my bread crumbs. If you use pepper jack, this might not be necessary.
Shaping the Arancini
You can make these, theoretically, as big or small as you want. I think about golf ball size is good. Using cold risotto makes this a lot easier. I’ve tried it with even room temp risotto and it’s a lot harder.
I find that it’s easier to roll all my arancini and then go back and coat them with bread crumbs.
To make one, just scoop out a small handful of risotto, put a cube of cheese in the middle, and mold the risotto around the cheese, forming a ball.
Once you have all the arancini formed, then it’s pretty easy to coat them. Just dip each one in the egg mixture and then roll it around in the spiced bread crumbs.
I think it took me about 15 minutes to make 20 or so of these.
Cooking the Arancini
Deep fry the arancini (a deep fry thermometer is handy) at 350 degrees for about 4-5 minutes until they are a deep golden brown. I use canola oil for frying normally. Don’t try to do too many at a time or they won’t brown well.
Also, don’t forget about them or they might explode!
I always like to do a test one before I start tossing them in in batches. My test turned out pretty darn good!
As did my batches!
Risotto is quickly becoming one of my favorite dinners. It’s extremely filling and actually fairly economical. Once you get the method down you can make tons of variations and the leftovers can be eaten as-is or turned into these little globes of goodness!
What do you think? Successful? Are you scared of risotto?