Arancini are cheese-stuffed deep-fried risotto balls - they sound a little strange, and they take a little bit of effort, but the end result is utterly delicious. You can also prepare the risotto a day in advance, making the process a little easier. Serve them with a fresh tomato sauce.
- 675g arborio risotto rice
- 1 onion
- 1 tbsp. freshly chopped thyme leaves
- 1.5 litres chicken stock
- 250ml white wine
- 30g butter
- 1 pinch saffron threads
- 80g parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 450g fontina cheese, cubed
- 215g breadcrumbs
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 tsp. mixed dried herbs
- 1 litre vegetable oil
Place the saffron into a bowl with the wine. Put the stock into a large saucepan next to the risotto you're making and heat it over a low heat - don't boil it, just let it get warm. Meanwhile, get on with starting the risotto. Finely dice the onion. Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the onion and thyme and cook until transparent, around 4-5 minutes.
Stir in the rice. Cooking over a medium high heat, continue stirring gently, using a wooden spoon, until the rice has absorbed most of the butter and the rice grains are starting to "crack" - they should be turning slightly transparent on the ends.
Gradually add the wine and saffron to the rice, stirring all the while until the rice has absorbed all of the wine. Add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until the rice has absorbed all of the stock before adding any more stock. Stop adding stock when the rice is tender; you might not need all of the stock, but you might also need more stock. The rice is done when it is soft but still has a slight bite. Take the risotto off the heat, stir in the parmesan and 2 tbsp. butter and cover. Leave for 4-5 minutes, stir until combined, then leave to cool.
Grease a baking tray with oil. When the risotto is cool, spread it in the baking tray, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge until chilled.
When chilled, roll small balls of risotto using your hands - they should be about the size of a golf ball. Stuff with a square of fontina, covering the cheese with the risotto so that it doesn't melt out.
On a plate, combine the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and mixed dried herbs. Roll the balls in the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil to 190C, then fry the risotto balls for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving.