Rice Balls
Arancini di Riso

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Rice Balls
Arancini di Riso
cookbook: Lidia's Italy in America
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serves: Makes about 2 dozen


5 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup finely diced ham or prosciutto , about 3 ounces
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white whine
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup grated Grana Padano, or Parmigiano-Reggiano
10 basil leaves, chopped
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes, (you'll need about 24 cubes)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups fine dry breadcrumbs
2 larges eggs
Vegetable oil, for frying


In a small pot, warm chicken stock over low heat. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook until onion begins to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ham or prosciutto and cook a few minutes, until it begins to render its fat. Add the rice and cook to coat the rice in the oil/fat. Pour in the wine, bring to a simmer and cook until the wine is almost reduced away. Add 3 cups hot chicken stock and the salt. Cover and simmer until the chicken stock is absorbed by the rice, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups stock and recover. Cook until rice is al dente, about 6 to 7 minutes more. Uncover, if any liquid remains, increase heat and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, another minute or 2. Stir in peas and spread rice on a rimmed sheet pan to cool.

When the rice is cool, put in a bowl and stir in grated cheese and chopped basil. Scoop out about 1/3 cup rice and put a cube of mozzarella in the center, forming a tight ball around the cheese. You should get about 24 arancini.

Spread the flour and breadcrumbs on 2 rimmed plates. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl. Dredge the arancini in the flour, tapping off the excess. Dip them in the beaten egg, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Roll in breadcrumbs to coat thoroughly.

In a large, straight-sided skillet, heat 1-inch vegetable oil over medium heat, until the tip of an arancino sizzles on contact. Fry arancini in batches, taking care not to crowd the skillet, turning on all sides, until golden, about 3 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels and season with salt while still warm.

This recipe is from Lidia’s newest book, Lidia’s Italy in America, which was released in October.

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