When it comes to entertaining during the holidays or just any time of the year, it’s really fun to create a mouthwatering dish that really wows the crowd. Whether it’s the ingredients, the intricacy or just a fancy name, devising a singular course that creates a mood of whimsy can really make the night!
Arancini di riso (fried rice balls) is one such dish. It is a great way to use up leftover risotto, but with this recipe I cooked the risotto specifically for making arancini. It’s a simple dish, no fancy ingredients, but the name makes it special. Adding a great dipping sauce, though, is truly key to making this appetizer shine!
I really love the way the acidity of the tomatoes and balsamic work with the spices to cut through the creamy, rich consistency of the arancini. The sauce is the yin to the arancini’s yang, and together you have a truly balanced bite.
A few quick notes before we get to the recipe:
? A traditional risotto is made with Arborio rice, but I’ve also used a medium-grain rice in its place and had a great final product.
? If you don’t have white wine, just use another half cup of chicken stock or water. The wine adds a great flavor, but isn’t a must-have if you don’t have it on hand.
? Some stores don’t carry crushed tomatoes in a size less than 28 ounces; if that’s the case, just measure out 14 ounces and save the rest!
? You can certainly add less or more when it comes to the spices, but I love the balance of the measurements listed below.
? I like to make the sauce the day before to allow the flavors to really meld together.
Arancini Di Riso with Spicy Tomato Balsamic Dipping Sauce
For the risotto
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 cup arborio or medium-grain rice
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 3-4 cups chicken stock
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 teaspoon dried basil
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
• 3-4 cups neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable oil
• salt to season the arancini (optional)
For the spicy tomato balsamic dipping sauce
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 small onion, minced
• 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons De Nigris Balsamic Vinegar de Modena
Directions to make the risotto and arancini:
- In a small saucepan over medium heat melt together the butter and olive oil.
- Stir in the rice so that the grains are coated with the fat.
- Allow the rice to toast in the pan, stirring frequently, until just starting to turn brown.
- Pour in the white wine and stir until the wine has been absorbed.
- Stir in a 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid.
- Repeat until the rice is tender and plump, and the starches have been released to create a creamy sauce. You may or may not use all of the stock, so when there is about a cup left test the rice to check for doneness.
- When the rice is done, remove from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper, basil and Parmesan cheese until completely combined.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to cool completely, but overnight is preferred.
- When the risotto has cooled, use a small cookie scoop to portion out the rice.
- Using your hands, roll the rice into balls, and then roll the rice balls in the breadcrumbs.
- Refrigerate for about 30-45 minutes before frying.
- To fry, heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until a wooden spoon inserted creates bubbles very quickly.
- Fry the arancini for about 2-3 minutes, 3 at a time, until golden brown.
- Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels; season with additional salt if desired.
- When the arancini are done, serve them hot with the spicy tomato balsamic dipping sauce.
Directions to make the spicy tomato balsamic dipping sauce:
- In a skillet heat up the olive oil.
- Add the onion and saute until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes.
- Add the red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper and stir to combine.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and the De Nigris balsamic vinegar and stir to combine.
- Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 7-10 minutes until slightly reduced.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
Heather Disarro is a food-centric lifestyle blogger who is passionate about embracing the beauty that surrounds us with in our everyday lives. She is a Texan living the expat life in central Arkansas with her husband, sons and two massive dogs. Heather writes her blog, Heather's Dish, from an office filled with dust, dog fur, toys and plenty of love, grace and music. She specializes in creating delicious and creatively nourishing recipes. Cooking seasonally and with as many local ingredients as possible is an important component to Heather's style of food, and she revels in the opportunity to bring the love of cooking to the world as a way to love others well! You can find her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram.