January’s Daring Cooks’ challenge was a ball! The lovely Manu from Manu’s
Menu brought our taste buds to the streets of Sicily and taught us her family tradition of making arancine – filled and fried balls of risotto. Delizioso!

Arancini garnished with Marinara Sauce and Parsley

I have always seen Arancini on menus but never tasted it. I had actually promised myself that I would make it in the New Year, so it was awesome when I saw the Daring Cooks Challenge for January 2014 was Arancini! To be honest, I didn’t have Arborio rice or any other short grain rice, but in reading a lot about risottos, I figured Basmati Rice would work just fine and the end product was incredible! I can only imagine how much more delicious it would be if I had used Arborio rice or Vialone Nano. In fact, I’m not sure I know where to find that type of rice where I live! As I was about to give up because I didn’t have the right type of rice, my husband reminded me that a lot (99.5%) of the things I make come from me substituting measurements or ingredients and it hasn’t failed me yet. That gave me the courage to continue with the Basmati rice and hence the small quantity. I wanted to test and see if using Basmati would work, so feel free to multiply the recipe below.

1/4 cup + 2 T Basmati rice
1 T butter + 1 T butter
1/4 minced Garlic
1 cup + 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup ground beef
2 T marinara sauce 
1/4 Cup + 1 T Mozzarella

I followed the instructions for making a risotto that were provided by Manu with some minor changes:

Heat up the chicken broth in a pot and leave the stove on low to keep it hot throughout the process.

Melt 1 T butter and add the minced garlic until the butter is fully melted and is starting to bubble.

Add the rice, mix well and let it cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until the rice becomes translucent.

Then add 1/4 cup of chicken broth to cover the rice and turn the heat to medium-low.

Keep cooking, occasionally stirring the rice and adding stock 1/4 cup at a time after the last batch is drying out, until the rice is a little
more than half cooked. It is going to take about 8 – 10 minutes (NOTE – the rice HAS to be undercooked
at this stage as it will keep cooking until it cools down completely. By the end of the process it will be
just right).

After the 10 minutes are up, turn the heat off and add the remaining 1 T butter and Mozzarella to your
risotto. Mix very well, until it becomes creamy, but dry (if it’s too moist, you will have a hard time
making balls out of it). Check for salt and season to your liking

Brown the ground beef, season with Italian seasonings and drain.

Add the marinara sauce and take off the stove.

Spread the risotto on a baking sheet or a plate to cool.

Set up your filling station:

Place the meat filling a bowl with a spoon to scoop.

Pour the flour into a bowl.

Whisk one egg into a separate bowl.

Pour the breadcrumbs into another bowl next to the egg.

When the rice has cooled down, make an even number of balls with it and then open them by putting your
thumb in one side. The hole has to be quite large to allow you to fill them as much as possible with
the stuffing.

Fill them with 1/2 tablespoon of meat sauce. 

Do this for all the balls and set on a plate.

Then roll each ball in flour, then the egg (let excess egg drip off), and then cover with breadcrumbs.

Shallow fry in vegetable oil until golden brown. Serve warm.


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