- 2 cups (500 mL) white rice or leftover Risotto Bianco
- 2 cups (500 mL) Basic Tomato Sauce
- 1 cup (250 mL) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- ½ cup (125 mL) all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup (250 mL) plain dry bread crumbs
- 3 oz (90 g) mozzarella, cubed
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
Put the rice or risotto in a bowl, add the tomato sauce and Parmigiano, and stir everything together.
You’ll need three shallow dishes placed side by side. Place the flour on one dish, the beaten egg in another, and the bread crumbs in the last dish.
Scoop out a handful of the rice mixture and form it into a ball. Using your thumb, make a depression in the middle of the rice ball. Place a couple cubes of mozzarella inside, and then reshape the ball so the cheese is fully enclosed. Repeat until you have used up all of the rice. Then roll each ball first in the flour until it’s lightly coated, then in the beaten egg (let any excess drip off) and finally in the bread crumbs so that it’s evenly coated.
You can either pan fry or deep-fry the the rice balls. To pan fry, fill a pan with about ½ inch (1 cm) of olive oil and put it over high heat. You want to heat the oil until it’s very hot so the balls fry quickly and stay crisp on the outside. To see if the oil is hot enough, drop in a few bread crumbs: If the crumbs sizzle the instant they hit the oil, you’re good. Working in batches so you don’t crowd the pan, carefully fry a few balls at a time, turning them occasionally so they cook evenly all over. When they’re golden brown, transfer them to a plate lined in paper towels to drain.
If you are cooking the arancini in a deep fryer, preheat the oil according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then gently drop the balls into the hot oil, a few at a time, and cook until golden brown all over. Transfer them to a plate covered with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Remember, all of the ingredients are already cooked, so this step is just to give the arancini a crisp, golden exterior and melt the mozzarella inside. Serve warm or at room temperature.
To me, this is fun food, finger food. My earliest memories of arancini take me back to Italy, when my grandmother would make it for us as a snack for afternoons on the beach. It’s compact, easy to eat and kid-friendly. My kids love them, and leftovers make great school lunches.