The inspiration for today's meal was a Sicilian recipe called Arancini (which became the much simpler Cheesy Rice Balls here at The Madhouse so that it didn't put the kids off !). Wikipedia explain that arancini originated in Sicily in the 10th century and can be filled with ragù (meat sauce), tomato sauce, mozzarella and/or peas. The name derives from the Italian word for orange- arancina means "little orange". OK, culinary history lesson over - here's our version :
Cheesy Rice Balls (or Arancini)
ingredients : (quantities to be definied depending on how many portions you want)
a stock cube
2 onions, finely diced
Fry the onion in a little olive oil then add the risotto rice and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes until it goes translucent.
Add some stock (beef/chicken/vegetable - whatever you fancy - I used a beef Knorr Stock Pot and some boiling water straight from the kettle !) and keep adding a ladleful at a time as it is absorbed.
Stir from time to time and cook for about 20 minutes on a low heat, until the rice is soft and slightly sticky. Leave to go cold and refrigerate for a couple of hours. (This isn't absolutely indispensible if you're short on time, but it does help the rice stick together.)
Take a handful of rice and shape it into a ball. Press your thumb into the ball and insert a piece of mozzarella, then cover the hole up with rice.
Set up a work station with a plate of beaten egg, a dish of breadcrumbs mixed with parmesan and seasoning (I used salt/pepper/oregano/garlic pepper) and a plate to set the rice balls on. Gently roll each ball in egg then in breadcrumbs and set on the plate.
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the rice balls for a few minutes in batches, shaking the pan to roll them around. A few of ours stuck and lost some of their crispy coating and a couple fell apart so you may want to prepare a couple extra to the number you need, to be on the safe side !
The kids loved them. Madhouse Daddy thought they were a little bland but that can be easily remedied by adding a bit more spice or a dash of soy sauce to the rice mixture. They made a nice change to normal rice and this would also be a great way of using up leftover cooked rice.
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