Gooey, cheesy rice enclosed in golden crunchy crumb. Need I say anymore? The Italians are genius, GENIUS!
I received one of those “no brainer” questions a few weeks ago. It went like this:
“Nagi, would you be interested in attending a small lunch to sample and learn about Riccadonna sparkling wines? Massimo Mele will be cooking up an Italian feast!”
It took me about 2 seconds to hit Reply and send “YES!” straight away.
Oh, then I went back to check the date and make sure I was actually free – but really, I would have made it fit into my diary. 😉 I mean, who in their right mind would turn down a champagne lunch with Chef Massimo Mele cooking?? Even if you haven’t heard of him, with a name like Massimo, you can’t mistake his heritage!
At this lunch, Massimo cooked up a 4 course Italian Feast which was, unsurprisingly, phenomenal. A modern, fresh take on classic Italian ingredients, all paired with a different Riccadonna sparkling wine. And guess what? I got the RECIPE CARDS!! You can download a copy of them here. 🙂
In addition to dining on an incredible 4 course Italian feast, I got to learn more about Riccadonna sparkling wines. We had a different sparkling wine for each course, all delicious!
The fact is, when it comes to champagne, I am a bit of a snob. I love real French champagne but as luck would have it, I can’t actually afford a $70 bottle to indulge in every week. 🙁 So for every day purposes, I am quite careful about which champagnes and sparkling wines I purchase because unlike wine, you don’t always get what you pay for. The quality of champagne and sparkling wines you get for $15 varies quite a lot – in my personal, humble opinion.
Riccadonna Prosecco for me is a guaranteed hit every time. What I find unique about it is that the bubbles are so delicate, it is almost like drinking a wine but with the extra little fizziness. Also it’s really light, quite dry and not sweet – it’s refreshing actually. More refreshing than most wines, less fizzy than cheap champagnes. All round – great value for money which is what I’m all about! 😉
So in the spirit of sharing something a little special today that pairs so beautifully with Riccadonna Prosecco, I’m doing something a little different.
I LOVE deep fried food. I have a theory that anything can be made to taste great when it’s deep fried. But I rarely do it myself at home because I have an irrational fear of deep frying, plus clean up plus what I think of as “a waste of money” because you can’t recycle the oil (unless you keep deep frying…..my arteries harden at the thought…).
HOWEVER…these Cheesy Italian Arancini Balls are WORTH the effort! Besides the fact that they are eye-rollingly delicious, they are so good for make ahead. I’m thinking about a party I’m catering for my mother for Christmas and was keen to test these out.
Also, I didn’t actually use as much oil as I expected to. I used a saucepan, I just feel safer. And because of the small size of these balls, they are easy to handle as opposed to, for example, fried chicken which you would struggle to fry in a saucepan!
I was actually quite amazed at how well they reheated in the oven! They honestly tasted like they were cooked fresh, the shell was incredibly crisp, the round shape held up perfectly, and the inside was molten and delicious!
They can be served plain. I personally do not think a dipping sauce is required because they are loaded with cheesy flavour. However, I have also provided a quick marinara dipping sauce. Just don’t make the mistake I made, hmm…? Fishing out that Arancini Ball out was rather messy! 😉
Oh – do you need more convincing that these are worth making? Will this photo convince you? 😉
Before I sign off, one last thing. Most Arancini Ball recipe either require 30-40 minutes active stove time to make the risotto rice for these balls OR they are made with precooked ordinary rice which I personally feel does not have anywhere near the same creaminess.
So I use a compromise. I make BAKED risotto so you get the same creaminess, with far less effort. 🙂
Party season is coming up. Thanksgiving, Christmas…..
These are a MUST try! Honestly, I would not share these if I didn’t think they were worth the effort of (semi) deep frying. – Nagi x
PS Instructions for how to consume: sip of Riccadonna Prosecco, bite Arancini, sip Prosecco, bite Arancini….and continue repeating until the earlier of: no more Arancini balls left or bottle is emptied. 😉
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small onion, finely diced (white, yellow, brown)
- 1½ cups risotto rice (arborio)
- ½ cup white wine (or substitute with broth/stock or water)
- 3½ cups chicken broth/stock
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- ¾ cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 2½ tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley, or 1½ tbsp dried parsley (Note 1)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup plain flour
- ½ tsp salt
- Black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- Cooking oil (I used vegetable oil)
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
- Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and cook for 5 minutes until soft.
- Add rice and stir until grains turn translucent. Add wine and turn up the heat to medium high. Cook until liquid is mostly absorbed/evaporated.
- Add chicken broth and milk. Stir, bring to simmer, cover, then transfer to oven. Baked, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool. Add Rice Mixture Ingredients and mix to combine. Cover and transfer to refrigerator for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.
- Mix flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl, eggs in another (lightly beaten) and panko in a third shallow bowl.
- Measure out a level (packed) ice cream scoop of rice mixture (about 2½ tbsp) and roll into a ball. (Note 2)
- Roll in flour, then dredge in egg mixture, then coat in panko, pressing to coat. (Note 3) Repeat with remaining mixture.
- In a medium saucepan, pour in 1"/2.5cm depth of oil and heat over medium high heat.
- Toss in a breadcrumb and if it starts sizzling immediately, the oil is hot enough.
- Carefully transfer a few balls into the hot oil, using a spoon. Turn frequently so they cook golden evenly, and when they are a deep golden brown, remove onto a paper towel lined plate to drain.
- Repeat with remaining balls.
- Serve with Marinara Sauce (optional) (Note 4) sprinkled with finely chopped fresh parsley if desired.
2. When the rice is refrigerated, it should become sticky and firm enough to roll into firm balls. If not, just add a wee bit of panko breadcrumbs (2 tbsp at a time) which will help absorb excess moisture and hold together.
3. I find the fastest way to do this is to measure the scoops out first into a baking tray, then roll them, then coat them in batches.
4. Quick Marinara Dipping Sauce - Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a small saucepan with ¼ cup of very finely chopped onion and 1 garlic clove, crushed. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, then add 1 cup of tomato passata (pureed canned tomatoes, also known as tomato sauce in America), ½ tsp onion powder, 1 tsp mixed Italian herbs (or sub with other herbs), pinch of chili flakes (optional), salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until thick, remove from heat and allow to cool.
5. These can be baked, but the crumb is not quite the same deep golden brown, but it's still delicious! To bake, after rolling the balls, place them in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm them up again. Then coat in panko as per recipe, drizzle with oil OR generously spray with olive oil and baking in a 200C/390F oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
6. I know some people like to stuff a cube of cheese in the middle. I used to but I don't anymore, ever since the hot cheese scorched my chin!
7. If you make ahead, reheat in a hot oven 200C/390F for 12 to 15 minutes until heated through and crunchy again.
No nutrition today. Because these are…you know. Fried. 😉
This post is sponsored by Riccadonna who hosted the lunch and asked if I would like to share what I thought about Riccadonna sparkling wine. As someone who has been sipping on Riccadonna for years, I was pretty darn thrilled to accept! N x