Tuesday, October 30, 2007



Leftovers are a lifesaver for a cook who is short on time. They get you out of a bind in a jiffy, most of the work having already been done. My angelheart Eric and I often cook more than we need so that there is something for lunch or the beginnings of the following night's dinner. I often turn leftover roasted vegetables into soup with the addition of chicken or vegetable stock, but that is as far as I usually go in order to revamp. The Italians, on the other hand, are adept at refining leftovers. They are renowned for their recipes that incorporate leftovers, creating entirely different and delicious dishes out of them. The current infatutuation with la cucina povera is testament to this.

Arancini does not pass for dinner in Sicily, but it suffices as a snack or as part of a lunch. I do not typically have leftover risotto but everyone had already eaten when I cooked up Beetroot Risotto two days ago - and I ate as much as I could! To feed more, of course you would need more than my measly cup of leftovers, but I wasn't going to waste it.

I didn't go whole hog either, for there was not enough leftovers to merit going to the effort of deep-frying, which though faster than what I did, requires waiting around time for a vat of oil to reach the required temperature (around 190 C/375 F). If you want proper arancini, which is to say a "little orange", then deep-frying is the only way to achieve a ball of golden crust that completely encases the balls of risotto and cheese.

The following recipe makes 4 arancini, enough for 2 as a snack or 1 for lunch.


1 cup leftover risotto (I had Beetroot Risotto, the recipe for which is here)
1 egg
3/4 cup breadcrumbs, divided use
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped, divided use
1/4 cup grated cheddar (feel free to be more traditional and cube mozzarella)
Red bran oil (or substitute with your frying fave: canola, olive or vegetable oil)

1) Heat enough oil to come half-way up the balls of risotto, approximately 3cm/1.2".
2) Mix together the risotto, egg, 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and 1 teaspoon parsley in a bowl.
3) Combine the remaining breadcrumbs and parsley on a flat plat and reserve. The balls will be rolled in this mixture before frying.
4) Use two tablespoons or the risotto mix per ball. Flatten out in the palm of your hand and sprinkle some grated cheese in the centre (or a cube of mozzarella). Close the risotto mix around the cheese.
5) Toss the ball from one hand to the next, gently forming a squat ball - a rounder meat patty.
6) Roll the balls in the breadcrumbs.
7) Fry until browned and heated through, approximately 4 mintues.
8) Drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt.
9) Serve after 2 minutes or else they will be too hot to eat.

This is a beautifully simple recipe to follow, and the result is rather incredible! It was good to use a relatively adventurous risotto, which has a bold flavour of sweet and savoury components. This complexity in initial flavour allows for more play with the crispy exterior - and more interesting bites, too! The cheese was gooey in the centre, as it should be. Each bite was sheer perfection. I'm beginning to think it isn't such a bad idea to make risotto for the purpose of making arancini. If that is not a sign of the genius of Italian cookery, turning leftovers into taste sensations, then I don't know what is.

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Oh god, that looks just delicious! I'm making risotto tonight - maybe I'll make sure I'll have leftovers! :)
You are QUITE the busy boy, Shaun. Looks like you have renewed culinary vigor with more frequent posts and a snappy save of that unique risotto you just dished out.

Italy sure does have much more varied and glorious dishes than the wildly popular and lovely Neopolitan fare. It deserves all the coverage it gets.
This may just stop me eating all the risotto leftovers in the middle of the night. Thanks! ;)
I had some leftover mushroom risotto recently and was thinking about making arancini as well. Sadly I was thinking for too long, so we had to discard the whole idea..
Beetroot arancini has a great colour - well done!!
Folks talk about chefs being artists of the culinary world. Your dish is definately artistic! Look at the colors on your palate! These look wonderful and I am loving the gooey cheese being in the center! What a great way to use a leftover!
The fitting follow up to the gorgeous pink one =) There is a tomato risotto in Tessa Kiros's Apples For Jam that she says is very good as these. Not that I'm really into pink or anything ;)
I've heard so much about these but never had any.
Anne ~ Indeed, this is delicious and an incredible recipe for leftovers. From now on, I will purposely ensure that I have leftovers!

Susan, lovie ~ I wish the culinary vigor wasn't because of the mental fatigue. Sadly, it was an ephemeral blast in the kitchen as perspective has returned such that I can continue writing. I really want to make a chocolate cake or pudding over the next week. I don't know what to make exactly, but I'm going to have fun reading for inspiration and clues.

Wendy ~ I'm happy to prevent eating too much after 8pm. But then I'm only replacing eating late with fried food, which I'm not sure is a healthier alternative. Oh well, you're still young.

Pille ~ Sorry you left it too late to make mushroom arancini. The colour of these is indeed fabulous, the deep purply-pink and the tinged orange. I think the parsley in the breadcrumbs was a good idea. I am not sure if they do that in Sicily or not, but I recalled the idea from when Eric and I made crab cakes not so long ago.

Deb ~ You're very kind, but any artistry here can only be attributed to Mother Nature. You can cube mozzarella for the center. I just don't like too much cheese in anything; here, there is enough to just make a gooey impression on the eater.

Kelly-Jane ~ I picked up Apples For Jam this morning and noticed the recipe. I can't believe I didn't read (or don't recall reading) that suggestion. I have yet to cook from the book. I appreciate her vision greatly, and that most of the recipes are simple for everyday fare with interest is appealing.

Cynthia ~ They are worth trying any day, since risotto can be fresh and light in Summer (just don't add cheese) or dense and rich in Winter. Some days a moderate helping of fried food cannot be bettered.
Never heard of arancini before. It looks good. I like the colors.
Helene - Welcome! Arancini is a Sicilian snack, so it is hardly vaunted in most books on Italian cookery except as a footnote on what to do with leftovers. I, personally, think this is a nice treat, though four per person is sufficient for lunch with a salad or something. The colours, here, are indeed vibrant, but more importantly the flavours of each component are bold and work well together.
Shaun - I used your recipe to make beautiful yellow pumpkin arancini balls - thank you for the great tip!!
Pille - I am glad to have presented this post. I was wondering if it was worth to post a snack food, but since I ended up eating it for lunch with a salad, I thought it was respectable enough. Besides, there is nothing like an inventive way with leftovers. Gotta love those clever Italians.
I adore arancini and they are well worth the effort and the saving of the risotto (if that's possible). The pink middle is completely delightful!
Hope you had a wonderful time with Eric and look forward to catching up with your blog!
Freya, love ~ So glad that you're back! The blogosphere has not been the same without you. I hope you enjoy the posts that you missed out on, though I dare say I haven't explored as much as I had hoped this year. My thesis has taken up so much energy, but it is coming to an end. Spending time with Eric is always wonderful, if only we could be in the same country every day. From next year onwards, we hope.
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