Arancini, stuffed and fried rice balls, are traditionally made with leftover risotto, but there’s no rule I’ve read that says you have to make them with risotto. I make them with all kinds of leftover rice. The key is to make sure that your rice is sticky enough to hold together, which might require adding a bit of extra liquid to it.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked rice (medium grain works well)
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes from oil (about a 7-ounce jar)
  • 1 cup lightly packed minced fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil from sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3-4 ounces manchego or other semi-hard cheese
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 3 large eggs, whisked
  • cups bread crumbs
  • 2 quarts vegetable or canola oil for frying

Method

  1. If your rice is very dry out of the fridge and has a crunchy texture, microwave it for 30 seconds with two tablespoons of water to loosen it up and make it easier to shape.
  2. Chop sun-dried tomatoes very finely and stir into cooked rice. Add minced basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and 1 tablespoon oil from the sun-dried tomato jar.
  3. Cube cheese into ¼-inch cubes. You need one cube for each rice ball, so judge accordingly.
  4. Scoop out ¼ cup of the rice mixture into your hand and stick a cube of cheese right in the center of the rice. Use your hands to shape the rice around the cube of cheese and pack it into a tight ball. Set the finished ball on a baking sheet and repeat until the rice mixture is gone.
  5. In three bowls, mix the flour plus a big Pinch of salt and pepper in one bowl, the eggs in a second bowl, and the bread crumbs in the third.
  6. Working with one ball at a time, roll the ball in the flour, then in the egg mixture, then in the bread crumbs. Use your hands to make sure the bread crumbs are packed on nicely and return the ball to the baking sheet. Repeat with all the rice balls.
  7. Heat the oil to 350°F in a large, sturdy pot. Please, use a deep-fry thermometer to make sure you don’t overheat the oil.
  8. Working in two or three batches, depending on the size of your pot, fry the rice balls for 4 to 5 minutes until they are golden brown.
  9. Remove arancini to a plate lined with paper towels to drain for a few minutes and then serve immediately.
  10. You can keep cooked arancini warm in a 250°F oven while you fry the other batches.
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