The name of this dish translates from Italian as “little oranges” because the puffs are golden yellow and round, resembling little oranges. You can make them as large as you wish, but the more they resemble oranges the more leaden they become. I prefer little balls that you bite into so that the hidden mozzarella oozes out onto your tongue. You can sauce them with your favorite tomato sauce – like marinara – but I think that hides the delicate flavor of the arancini. The morsels are a favorite at one of our local bar/restaurants, Dr. Field Goods, that serves them as bar food or as an appetizer.
For a long time, Rich Table made a dish that they called “fritters”. The fritters were a big hit when Sarah and Evan were doing pop-ups, and they stayed on the menu for a long time after Rich Table opened. The fritters were made with a corn batter instead of the rice of a classic arancino, but they had a similar flavor and the same surprise when you bit into the creamy middle.
For this version I have used cooked sushi rice so that it will stick together,.
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 scallions, minced finely
- 1 cup sushi rice
- salt and pepper
- 2 eggs
- mozzarella cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
- fine, dry bread crumbs
- peanut oil for frying
- Place the chicken stock in a large microwave-proof measuring cup. Sprinkle the surface of the stock with the unflavored gelatin, and let it bloom for 5 minutes. Stir the gelatin into the stock so that it is completely dissolved. Heat the stock to boiling in a microwave.
- In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the chopped scallions and cook until translucent, but not burned. Add the sushi rice and continue to stir until the rice grains are translucent with a pale white center, about 5 minutes. Pour in about 1 cup of the heated chicken stock. Be very careful, because the mixture will boil up and may overflow the pot if you are not careful. Continue at the boil, but stir continuously. When the liquid has nearly boiled away, add more liquid, continuing to stir the pot. Gradually add the chicken stock in batches until it has all been added. The rice should be creamy, and individual grains should be well cooked. Remove from the heat and let cook for a few minutes in the pot.
- Transfer the rice to a baking pan lined with parchment and allow to cool completely. Then transfer to a bowl and stir in the eggs until they are thoroughly combined. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.
- Remove the chilled rice mixture from the refrigerator. Shape about 2 tablespoons of the mixture into a round ball, using your hands. Push a cube of mozzarella into the center of each ball, roll with your hands again until smooth, and place on a parchment-lined baking pan. Chill the formed rice balls for an additional hour.
- One by one, roll the rice balls in fine, dry bread crumbs. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rice balls to a deep pan filled to about 1½ inches deep with peanut oil heated to 350°F As they are frying, turn the rice balls until they are golden brown on all sides.
- Drain on several thicknesses of paper towelling, and the transfer to a baking rack.
- Serve while still warm.