Let’s hear it for Italian street food!
The last time we were in Italy, if I had one I had one hundred arancini. Okay, maybe not one hundred, but I got dangerously close. It is, by far, one of my favorite gifts from this gorgeous country. Crunchy on the outside. Soft, creamy and decadent on the inside. Portable. Savory. Teeny. Mouth-watering. Nibbles. Gahhh.
I’m sure if you guys follow even a few blogs, you’re beginning to see some incredible football nosh making its way onto the scene. So I was inspired by everyone’s gorgeous party food to come up with an Italian tailgate treat of my own.
Pesto Arancini was the winner. Delicious hot out the fryer, cooled to room temp, or cold from the fridge – this little baby is as versatile a snack as they come. You can fill it with a cube of melty cheese, meat and sweet pea ragu, or basil pesto in all its herb-y glory like we’re doing today.
Arancini is typically made with short-grain rice, like arborio, which is commonly used for Risotto, however, I, for some reason, had two very large bags of medium-grain rice in my pantry… so, medium-grain rice it is! And I tell you what, it’s a fine substitute as long as you don’t overcook and you drain it very well.
Once the rice is cooked and cooled, combine it with your finished pesto, then throw it in the fridge for around an hour. Once the mixture is very cold and firm, with a small 1 inch scoop, form balls in the shape of tiny oranges – which by the way, is where this little beauty gets its name. Roll the rice balls in beaten eggs and then coat in Italian seasoned bread crumbs.
In a large skillet, over medium-high heat , cook 4 – 5 balls at a time for 2 – 3 minutes until golden brown, carefully turning as you go.
Using a slotted spoon, remove rice balls and drain on paper towels.
Keep finished arancini in a warm oven until the entire batch is complete. This recipe makes 60 – 65 balls.
Just enough to feed a hungry tailgatin’ crowd! Or me. Whoever gets there first…
- 5 cups chicken stock or canned reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cups medium-grain rice (or short grain)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 4 -5 medium size cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 cup pine nuts
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 - 2 cups vegetable oil
- To make the rice, bring the stock and olive oil to a boil in a 3 qt. saucepan.
- Stir in the rice, return to boil, then adjust the heat to simmering.
- Cook the rice, uncovered until al dente (tender but firm) for 12 minutes.
- Drain the rice and spread on a cookie sheet to cool to room temperature.
- While rice is cooling prepare pesto.
- In a food processor, process the basil, garlic and pine nuts until finely chopped.
- With the machine running, pour the oil in a thin steady stream into mixture.
- Add the cheeses, a big pinch of salt and a good grinding of black pepper.
- Process briefly to combine.
- Once rice is cooled, combine finished pesto (2 cups) with the rice. Spread on (same) cookie sheet.
- Cover and chill for about an hour, until cold and firm.
- Prepare one bowl with beaten eggs and another with bread crumbs.
- Remove rice mixture from fridge and form 1 inch balls.
- Roll rice balls in beaten eggs then in bread crumbs to coat.
- In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil.
- Cook in batches, 4 - 5 balls at a time, for 2 - 3 minutes, turning as you go.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove balls from oil and drain on a paper towel lined plate.
- Keep warm in a 200 degree oven while cooking the remaining balls.
- Arancini can be served hot or at room temperature.