Until I read this Guardian article written by good ol’ Felicity Cloake I had no idea that arancini are traditionally made with saffron rice. As a serious saffron lover, I was won over immediately by the idea and decided to take Felicity’s advice and make her perfect arancini (with only minor tweaks – leaving out the mozzarella and adding s taleggio stuffing rather than pesto/ragu).
Wow, what a brilliant recipe – these were outrageously delicious. The batter and crumbs so crunchy, the interior yielding gleaming rice and a melting ball of cheese. If you like rice, deep fried stuff and cheese (and who doesn’t) then you also need to try these. Honestly. You will thank Felicity too.
You will need:
800ml chicken or vegetable stock
250g arborio rice
½ tsp salt
Very generous pinch of saffron
50g parmesan, grated
100g taleggion cheese, cut into 10 equal-sized chunks
1 egg, beaten
170g plain flour
500g dried breadcrumbs (I used panko and used a mortar and pestle to crush them lightly)
1litre vegetable oil
1 – Bring the stock to the boil in a medium pan, then tip in the rice, salt and saffron. Bring back up to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer on a medium heat until the stock has been absorbed. Stir in the grated parmesan and season to taste, then leave to cool completely, preferably in the fridge – you can spread it out on a tray to hasten this if necessary.
2 – Divide the cooled rice into ten equal portions and roll the first portion between wet palms to form a ball. Poke a hole in the middle and press in a cube of the cheese, then close up the hole. Repeat until all the rice is used up.
3 – Beat together the egg, flour and 175ml water to make a thick batter; season. Tip your bashed up breadcrumbs into a bowl.
4 – Heat the oil in a deep pan until a breadcrumb sizzles on contact. As it is heating, dip each rice ball into the batter to coat, then roll them around in the breadcrumbs until coated all over.
5 – Cook the balls in batches until golden brown (about 5 minutes), making sure the oil comes back up to temperature between batches, and drain on kitchen towel. Sprinkle with a little salt while still warm and serve hot or cold.