Red Beet Arancini
In Sicily, Arancini are served as a traditional street food. The name means “little oranges” and is derived from their size and typical orange color. They are traditionally made by boiling rice and then mixing in ingredients like ground meat or vegetables. At home, Arancini are a great way to use left-over risotto. You can roll and freeze them, then thaw to room temperature and fry for a last minute appetizer.
Recipe makes 16-20 Arancini, total time:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup onion, diced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 2 tablespoons salt
- ¼ cup Cabernet Sauvignon
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup Parmesan, plus extra for serving, grated
- ½ cup red beet purée (see Note)
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced into 16 pieces
- 4 cups flour
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 4 cups bread crumbs
- 2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
Make the Risotto
- In a medium sauce pot heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. Add the salt and Cabernet Sauvignon and keep stirring until all of the wine evaporates.
- Add ½ cup of broth and stir constantly until the broth is absorbed into the rice. Repeat this step until all of the broth is used and the rice is tender. The consistency of the rice at this point should be creamy; if it is sticky or dry, add more water until it is soft and pourable (meaning, if poured onto a plate it will run flat and not hold its shape).
- Turn off the heat and stir in the butter, Parmesan, beet purée and balsamic vinegar. Pour into a shallow dish and refrigerate until cool.
Make the Arancini
- Once cool, scoop up two tablespoons of the rice mixture and form into a little ball, pushing a piece of the mozzarella into the center of the ball. (If the rice is too loose, fold in some bread crumbs to give it enough body to hold its shape.) Repeat with the remainder of the rice and mozzarella.
- Coat the rice balls in flour followed by the beaten egg mixture and the bread crumbs. Cook immediately, or refrigerate for up to two days, or freeze.
- Preheat the oil to 350°F in a large heavy saucepan. Add the Arancini and fry until golden brown on all sides (about 3-5 minutes). Strain onto a wire rack.
- Sprinkled with grated Parmesan and serve immediately.
To make beet purée, boil red beets until they are tender. Cool, peel and purée beats in a blender using a tiny bit of olive oil to help everything mix together.