Arancini means “little oranges” and I first tasted this marvel in Agrigento, Sicily, about five years ago. Although the one I had was more of a “massiccia arancione”, it was slightly larger than a cricket ball with a rich bolognaise filling, but it was love-at-first-bite.
I just had to try this months Mozzarella and Sage version in the Woolworths Taste Magazine (July 2015) and we invited our Sicilian friends for dinner to get the most accurate review. I served my Caprese Salad as a starter and the Brownies with Berry Sauce and Crushed Oreos for dessert. The first comment was “Wow, so no banting in this house!”.
2T Olive Oil
1 small onion
Sage leaves – punnet
280g risotto rice
1/4 cup of dry white wine
4 cups of chicken stock
1/4 cup grated parmesan
75g mozzarella -cubed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 free range eggs, beaten (you could really get away with 2)
150g Woolworths breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Canola oil for frying (I used about half a bottle and deep fried!)
Garlic mayonnaise for serving (I just crushed 3 cloves and mixed into a small bowl of mayo, was delicious)
I minced the onions and crushed the garlic and chopped sage (in my opinion you could make this 1T ) and then on a low heat, softened these in the olive oil in a large pan, stirring continuously till the onions had caramelised. I added the risotto rice and fried for about 5 minutes, until the rice was translucent. (Don’t panic when you see how small the portion of rice looks, it swells a lot and makes a lot of arancini in the end). I then added the wine and continued to stir until all the wine was absorbed. It is important to keep stirring throughout this entire process, start to finish. Then I started ladling the stock, ladle by ladle, stirring continuously until each ladleful is absorbed completely before adding the next. When I normally make risotto, I try to remember that it must “pour like a wave” and not be too stiff, but since I was making arancini (in a hurry instead of using leftover risotto from the day before), it helps to make sure the liquid is completely absorbed when done. I removed this from heat and dished the cooked risotto into a baking dish and placed into the fridge for an hour to cool to become starchy and stiff enough to make arancini.
After an hour, I removed the risotto from the fridge and placed it with three more dishes in front of me. A small side plate of flour, a bowl with the beaten eggs and a small plate with the breadcrumbs. Then I scooped the risotto into a tablespoon and flattened this into the palm of my hands as per Taste’s suggestion, then placed a mozzarella cube in the centre and folded the risotto around it to make a ball. This ball then got rolled thoroughly in flour, then in egg. Taste suggests placing the sage leaves on right at the end, but there is no way you will get the sage leaf to stick to the breadcrumbs (without painting it with egg first) so I simply stuck my sage leaves onto the eggy balls, before finally rolling them into the breadcrumbs. I piled these “ready-to-fry” balls on a plate until my guests arrived.
While my guests were chatting, I fried the balls in (about half a bottle of) oil, though my pan was quite deep, I did want to deep fry these guys. I was worried about oil seeping into the balls, but this batter/crumb combo was excellent and sealed them off perfectly. The result, crispy, gorgeous orangey-brown shells with a soft delicious (and oil free) risotto inside, with gorgeous hints of sage and an oozy melted mozzarella centre.
The garlic sauce was perhaps too garlic-y but damn, it did wonders for the mayo and the arancini.
We gorged ourselves. These “little oranges” even taste great the next day (and no, they do not explode when microwaved;))
Effort : This is quite a lot of work
Time : 2.5 hours
Appearance : 8/10 – gorgeously browned and I like the sage leaf addition!
Taste : 8/10 – look, it doesn’t compare to the Bolognese version in taste, but for what this is, perfect.
Would I make this again? Definitely. Add more sage!