The rice balls served in most pizza places are huge and dry and contain--yuk--peas in the center. The arancini I've ordered in fine dining restaurants often lack flavor. I wanted the creaminess of a freshly-made risotto, the crispiness of the breaded and fried rice ball, and the flavor that only good ingredients, like prosciutto and Fontina cheese, could impart.
Yield: 12-16 risotto balls
For the risotto:
5 cups low sodium beef broth
1 tbs EVOO
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 shallot, finely diced
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
For the risotto balls:
3 large eggs
1 cup grated Fontina cheese
3 oz prosciutto, chopped
vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
Heat the stock in a medium saucepan; keep at a simmer.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a straight sided skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until softened. Add the rice and stir to coat, cooking about 4 minutes until the rice starts to color slightly. Add the wine and cook until completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Ladle in enough stock to just cover the rice (about 3/4 cup). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is almost absorbed. Add the stock 1/2 cup at a time and cook in the same manner until the risotto is creamy and al dente, 16-20 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Set the risotto aside to cool completely.
Once the risotto is cooled, scrape it into a large mixing bowl. Beat one egg and add to the bowl along with the prosciutto and Fontina cheese. Mix completely. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop about 1/4 cup of the mixture into your hands and roll into balls. Refrigerate until just firm, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, set up a breading station: beat the 2 eggs in a shallow bowl; place the flour on one plate; place the bread crumbs on another plate. Dredge each risotto ball in flour, dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs.
While you are breading the risotto balls, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a medium Dutch oven. Fry the balls in small batches that are not crowded until deep, golden brown. You can keep them warm in a low oven until ready to serve.
Serve warm or hot with your favorite marinara sauce or just plain.
These little gems could serve as an entire meal for me. When your fry the risotto balls, the creaminess of the risotto combines with the saltiness of the prosciutto and the nutiness of the Fontina to create a perfect bite. I like mine plain, but you might enjoy yours with a dunk in the marinara sauce. Either way, these are perfection.