Mum and dad used to make Arancini for special occasions. It would normally be a gruelling 24 hour process between making the ragu, letting things cool, forming and cooking the arancini. A lot would get lost during the process, with each of us sneaking one out of the tray and running upstairs to eat. I only ever remember a handful of times these were made, but now I have simplified the process and even use them as a starter or a main dish. I promise, the process is not as long as it may look.
Ingredients for the sauce:
Heat some oil in the pan and gentle fry off some onion (do not brown) with the chilli flakes and then add the garlic being careful not to burn.
Add the sauce, seasoning and the basil and allow to simmer on a low heat for an hour.
Ingredients for the arancini:
750g aborio rice
1 x white onion (very finely diced or minced)
100ml white wine
1ltr of chicken (or vegetable) stock
Pinch of saffron (added to the stock)
2 x 90g Ham Hock
1 x 90g of Mini mozzarella balls (I like Galbani)
75g grated parmesan
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 x egg (for the rice)
3 x eggs (for to coat the rice balls)
200g plain flour
1.5Ltr of vegetable oil
Head a non-stick pan with a little oil and begin to fry the finely diced (or minced) onion until soft taking care not to burn. Add the rice and wine and stir so all combines. Here you adopt the same process you would as if you were making a risotto
Carefully add the stock, a ladle full at a time and stir into the rice until absorbed
Repeat the process for about 20 minutes until the rice is cooked (normally 20 to 25 minutes)
If you need more liquid, add some more water, but careful not to add too much
When the rice is ready, take off the heat and stir in the butter, then the parmesan and finally the beaten egg
When all has been combined, I normally tip into a baking tray that has been lined with cling-film
Add a layer of cling-film on top, flatten out and then leave to cool down.
Method (Forming & frying the arancini):
Heat a pan of oil or a deep fat fryer to 180 degrees
Prepare three bowls; 1) with the flour, 2) with the beaten egg and 3) with the breadcrumbs
I normally have a further two bowls (I like a kitchen mess when cooking); 1) with the ham and 2) with the mini mozzarella halved
Take a palm full of rice and flatten out in the palm of your hand e.g. your left hand
Add a piece of mozzarella and ham in the middle, but make sure not to over fill
Take another palm of rice and layer on top. With the mix in your left hand gently bring your fingers up to cup round the mixture. Place your right hand on top and gently shape the mix into a ball. You can cover up any patches with a little more rice. You will note that the rice is sticky and easily pliable. Place the rice ball onto the side and repeat the process
When you are finished take a rice ball and roll into the flour. Move the rice ball into the egg wash and finally the breadcrumbs. Repeat the process and put the rice balls to the side ready for frying
When the oil has reached its temperature carefully add the rice balls. I normally cook 4 rice balls at a time. Cooking time is 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Once ready, place the arancini on some kitchen towel to soak up any excess oil
The arancini can be eaten alone, however I like to add some sauce to a plate with the arancini on top. These are even better the next day reheated or cold as they are.