Leftover risotto is pretty horrid. So turn it into these Baked Arancini Balls. They’re so unbelievably delicious you’ll start making extra large batches of risotto just so you can make these. I made these Baked Arancini Balls using leftover Baked Creamy Pumpkin Risotto which I shared last week. But you can use any risotto you want.
Real Arancini Balls are deep fried. They are insanely addictive, with a golden crunchy crumb and creamy cheesy risotto on the inside. I could eat them every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Which is why I am so glad that there are no Italian delis in my area, otherwise I’d be in real trouble.
But I need an Arancini fix every now and then. Plus risotto is a regular in my midweek meal rotation and more often than not there will be leftovers, possibly because my subconscious makes me cook up an extra large batch just so I have an excuse to make Arancini Balls.
I make my Arancini Balls by baking them rather than deep frying. Besides the health benefit, I generally don’t like to deep fry because I can’t be bothered with the mess of cleaning up afterwards.
This is really simple to make. Firstly, mix an egg into leftover risotto. Then test the consistency of the risotto to see if you need to add breadcrumbs to make the risotto thicker so your balls will hold their shape when baked. To do this, make a test ball and leave it for a minute or two to see if it starts to flatten. If it does, then add some plain breadcrumbs, a bit at a time, until the risotto becomes a consistency so that it holds its shape for a minute. This step is optional. If you don’t mind the Arancini Balls turning out more like patties, you don’t need to worry about this step. It certainly doesn’t affect the flavour, just the appearance.
Then refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour. This step is highly recommended, it firms up the risotto making it easier to roll into shape and hold their shape when they bake.
The next step is to coat the balls in panko. Here is how I do it, along with my logic and some tips and tricks!
1. To get Arancini Balls golden brown, I mix olive oil into the panko. Spray oil after coating with panko doesn’t work – the one time I tried that, I literally blew all the crumbs off the top of the balls (from the force of the spray). The other option is to drizzle olive oil over each ball which I find did not work well because you can’t coat them evenly unless you pour about 1 1/2 to 2 tsp on each, in which case you may as well deep fry.
2. Use an ice cream scoop to make the balls – it makes them pretty much round and also the perfect size.
3. Use panko rather than ordinary breadcrumbs. This is a “must” for baked Arancini Balls because panko crumbs are larger than normal breadcrumbs so they add crunch, compensating for not deep frying them.
4. Use a dessert spoon to coat the balls with panko. I use the ice scream scoop to drop balls into the panko, then I use a spoon to coat the ball with panko, then I pick up the ball with the spoon and use my fingers to press the panko. That way my fingers stay completely clean and free of sticky risotto stuck with breadcrumbs!
5. Shape the balls into egg shapes (optional). And place them on the baking tray upright so they stand taller than they are wide. The reason for this is that the balls will flatten slightly when baking. This is optional because you may not care if your Arancini Balls are more like a pattie shape – in fact, when this happens you get a higher crunch to risotto ratio because the base of the Arancini Ball is the crunchiest part!
6. I don’t dip the balls in egg. I find that the risotto is wet enough for the panko to stick, and dipping it in egg also makes the balls harder to handle. Also because I use panko breadcrumbs, it creates a thicker crust than using breadcrumbs. If you use ordinary breadcrumbs, you need to use egg to make a thicker layer of the breadcrumbs stick to the ball.
That’s it from me! So here’s the recipe – love to hear what you think if you try it!
- 3 cups leftover risotto (see note 1)
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup grated cheese (tasty, cheddar, mozzarella or any other good melting cheese)
- ⅓ cup plain breadcrumbs (Optional - to thicken the risotto. May not be required - see note 2)
- 1½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Combine risotto with the egg and cheese and mix well.
- Do a test ball to determine stiffness of risotto (optional step - see note 2): Take a slightly mounded scoop of the risotto using an ice cream scooper (about ¼ cup), roll it into an egg shape and place it upright on a small plate so that it is higher than it is wide. Wait a minute or two and see if it holds its shape. If it collapses at bit, use the plain breadcrumbs to thicken the risotto - you may not need any, you might need more or less. Do another test until you are happy with the consistency.
- Cover risotto and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
- Lightly grease or spray a baking tray.
- Combine panko and salt in a bowl. Then add the olive oil and use your fingers to lightly "rub" the olive oil into the panko and disperse it as evenly as possible
- Make the arancini balls: As per the test ball, make arancini balls using the ice-cream scooper. Drop the balls into the bowl with the panko. Spoon over the panko, then use your fingers to either roll and pat the panko so it sticks to the arancini.
- Scoop the arancini out of the panko bowl using a dessert spoon and use your fingers to shape it into an egg / cylinder shape.
- Place the arancini onto the baking tray upright so it stands taller than it is wide. The reason for this is that the arancini will collapse a bit when baking. So by shaping them slightly taller, when they come out of the oven they will be more of a ball shape rather than collapsing into a pattie.
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden.
- Remove from oven, rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with finely chopped parsley if desired.
2. The step to determine whether you need any breadcrumbs to thicken the risotto is optional. If you don't mind arancini in the shape of a pattie rather than a ball, then you do not need to do this step. Or your risotto may be thick enough so you don't need breadcrumbs anyway.
The purpose of the breadcrumbs is to adjust the consistency of the risotto so that when you roll it into balls it holds its shape rather than collapsing. It will depend on your risotto and how much liquid it absorbed. You may need to adjust the amount of breadcrumbs you use - you might need more or less or you may not need it at all. Just roll a few test balls.