Arancini: Italian Rice Balls with Pork
I'm going to have to shout-out to my mom here. A few weeks ago, I was home in Jersey for something or other, and right before I left, I decided I wanted to make arancini. I've eaten them before and they are amazing, but I had never attempted to make them. (I think I was watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, again... that's where I get motivated to make different things.) My mom was headed to the store, and I asked her to pick me up some items so I could make the rice balls. While she was at the store, my sister called her and asked her to bring something home for her as well. 30 minutes later, my mom comes in the door with Andrea's stuff, but forgot all about the arancini ingredients. Don't know how long it'll take for her to live that one down. Lucky for Mom, I finally gathered all the ingredients I needed, and they came out fabulous! Make sure you serve them with warm marinara sauce, because the richness inside pairs well with the tangy tomato sauce. Yum!
What You'll Need:
- 1 1/2 pounds ground meat: pork, veal, beef, sausage - or a combo! (I used pork this time)
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 yellow onion, small
- 3 cups Arborio rice (risotto)
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 5 cups panko breadcrumb
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 heaping tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- 8 eggs, divided
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
1. Add pork to a hot skillet and begin to break up with a wooden spoon. When the pork starts to brown, add white wine, Italian seasoning, pepper flakes and paprika. Mix to incorporate, and let simmer until wine cooks out and pork is cooked through. Set aside to cool.
2. To a large pot, add 2 tablespoons of butter and onions, and saute until translucent and soft, about 10 minutes. Add the rice, and toast for about five minutes, continuously stirring and folding, as not to let the rice burn. Add stock, one cup at a time, and allow rice to absorb the liquid completely before adding additional. Continuously stir the rice as you add your liquid. Keep adding stock until rice puffs, and becomes fluffy. It should take about 6 cups, but it could take less. This process should take 30-35 minutes, so be patient. When rice is finished, remove from heat, add cream and remaining butter and let cool.
3. In a large mixing bowl, mix pork, rice, 2 cups of breadcrumb, cheeses, parsley, and 4 eggs. Season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Set up a dredging station using 2 cups of flour, the remainder of the eggs, and the remainder of the breadcrumb all in separate bowls. Make round balls out of rice mixture: coat with flour, then egg, then breadcrumb. Set on a sheet pan and repeat until rice is gone. This should make about 4 dozen rice balls. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
4. In a large pot, bring vegetable oil to 350-degrees and drop in about 4 rice balls at a time, depending on how big your pot is. (Make sure the oil is at temperature, or the balls will soak in all the oil and become saturated.) Fry for a few minutes, until golden brown, and retreive with a slotted spoon. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping!