These fried risotto balls are a specialty street food in Sicily. They literally mean “little oranges” because they look like oranges with their golden breaded coating. Sometimes they’re filled with meat sauce, but I like to fill mine with cheese, which usually means whatever is in my fridge. I’ve made these for many parties as appetizers, and no one can eat just one! They’re also great for freezing ahead. Just form the balls and roll in the egg and breadcrumbs, then freeze on a baking sheet. Once they’re frozen, put them into a freezer baggie and store in the freezer until you’re ready to fry them.
Ingredients (serves 25)
2 cups short grain rice (such as arborio)
1 tbsp. salt
8 ounces Italian cheeses for filling (Parmesan, Fontina, Mozzerella, Gorgonzola)
1 tsp. fresh oregano (or any fresh herb or combination)
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
Boil the rice in 4 cups of salted water for 25-30 minutes, until soft and sticky (don’t stir). Spoon out rice onto baking sheets and spread out to cool. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the cheeses and herbs. To form the balls, take approximately 2 tsp. of rice and flatten it into your hand (wet hands) Place a teaspoon of cheese filling on the flattened rice. Top with another teaspoon of rice and form into a ball, enclosing the cheese well.
Wet hands really helps to make them form well. Continue with remaining ingredients, forming balls. In a small bowl, beat the three eggs. In another bowl, combine bread crumbs and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Roll each rice ball in egg and then bread crumb mixture. Place balls on a baking sheet to be ready to fry. Heat oil in a deep pan to 375 degrees. Carefully place a few balls into hot oil, but do not crowd.
Turn them to brown on all sides and remove to a plate lined with paper towel. Let cool slightly and serve. Arancini can be kept warm in 250 degree oven until serving time. You can also freeze the uncooked arancini on a baking sheet until frozen. Then put into bags to store in freezer until ready to fry. Frying time will be longer.