Saturday, August 3, 2013


The night my friends came over and I made the glorious lemon baby cakes  and the sparkling lemonade (and, while we're on the topic, my favorite Greek salad as well), I obviously needed to make something for dinner as well!  While on Pinterest a while back, I came across the magnificent idea of arancini.  The name in and of itself is fun to say and just sounds delicious, and then when you hear that they are deep fried balls of rice and cheese - oh man.  Where can you go wrong with those parts!??!

Here's the thing... I kind of suck at (and am a little afraid of) deep frying.  I tend to ignore recipes that call for frying because it's scary and I always think back to my one frying experience when I tried to deep fry shallots for my from-scratch green bean casserole.  Things did not go well.  The oil kept getting too hot and my thinly-sliced shallots turned into charred black nuggets in seconds - not to mention the dangerous high velocity blobs of scorching oil that constantly tried to find their way towards my arms and face.  So I have not gone near hot oil for over a year.  I even tried to find recipes for baked arancini, and I did see them, but they just didn't look or sound as good as the fried ones.  I had to be brave and try to try once more!

First I had to cook the rice.  Not just any rice can be made into rice balls; it has to be really sticky. I ended up using arborio rice - and making way too much of it, by the way, but that's another story; so is the story about impatiently waiting for the rice to cool.  You definitely want to make the rice waaaay in advance!  Then, you mix up the rice with some parmesan cheese, form it into a ball with a little square of fresh mozzarella tucked inside, and roll it in egg and breadcrumbs.

My expert frying assistant!
Then comes the scary frying part.  The oil has to stay at 375 degrees; this required quite a bit of finagling with the dials, turning it up and down and up and down, but we kept it fairly close to the target temp most of the time.  The first one I tossed into the oil I took out way too quickly because I was nervous.  The recipe says to cook them until they are golden brown, but from my experience, a darker brown was the color to aim for.  Golden brown meant a nicely cooked outside but the cheese inside wasn't melty yet.  Dark brown meant it was done perfectly.  Luckily I had Dani as my frying assistant; I will admit that she was far better than I was at it and less panicky!  Thanks for coming to a dinner party and doing the dirty work, Dani!

The end result?  These guys are delicious.  Crunchy on the outside, gooey and carb-fabulous on the inside, they are absolutely heavenly served with some hot marina sauce.  Everyone loved them and we all agreed that the frying was worth it!  Healthy - not so much, but definitely a good treat :)


arancini (rice balls)
from Just A Taste
yield 8 arancini

2 cups cooked white rice, cooled
1/2 cup gated parmesan cheese
3 eggs, separated
8 small cubes fresh mozzarella
1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
oil for frying
1 cup marinara sauce


1) Place a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and add enough vegetable oil to rise 4 inches in the pot.

2) Combine the rice, parmesan, and 1 egg in a medium bowl and use your hands to thoroughly combine to mixture.

3) Form each arancini by taking a small portion of the mixture, squeezing it firmly and stuffing one cube of mozzarella inside each ball.  Repeat this process to form 8 arancini.

4) Whisk together the remaining 2 eggs.  Dip each arancini in the eggs and then in the breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess.

5) Once the oil reaches 375 degrees, add 2 or 3 of the breaded arancini to the pot and fry then until golden brown and cooked throughout.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the fried arancini from the pot and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate.  Immediately salt the arancini.

6) Repeat the frying process with the remaining arancini.  Serve arancini warm with a side of warm marinara sauce.

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