Here I am doubling up recipes again. Due to my general discomfort with wasting food, I love taking one recipe and then using the leftovers to make a completely new one. ‘Stone soups’ abound in my house, never to be recreated quite the same again- it’s my most tried and true clean-out-the-fridge method, particularly when the weather gets cool.
Clearly, Italians feel the same way as I do about food wastage; arancini balls are traditionally made out of leftover risotto from the previous night. Freshly made risotto is creamy and decadent but leave it for a few hours and it gets starchy and gluey, not so great on it’s own, but perfect for breading and frying for lunch the next day.
For this recipe, I used the leftovers from the Butternut Squash Risotto with Smoked Bacon and Crispy Fried Sage I posted the other day. You can use any flavour risotto leftovers you happen to have, or I have included the basic butternut risotto recipe below. One thing I will encourage, however, is to make the risotto the day before. Enjoy it in all it’s sumptuous glory first, and make enough for leftovers. Fresh risotto, even when cooled, can often fall apart during the frying process (as I have learned time and time again when I get too excited about the prospect of arancini).
Left to cool and think and- apologies for the unflattering word but- congeal, risotto transforms itself into a totally different beast. An arancini-perfect beast. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartbreak and frustration using proper leftovers and the arancini themselves will come together quickly and easily. Roll, bread, fry, eat. No wonder Italians have been enjoying these transformative leftovers for ages! If anyone knows good food, it’s the Italians.
Arancini can be dressed up or dressed down. The pictures I’ve included here were my pub-style lunch for some friends. Later that day I had some ‘fancy friends’ over for dinner (don’t act like you don’t have some of those, too- some friends you wear no make-up and stretchy pants to hang out with, others you clean the bathroom and vacuum your house and put on mascara for, as if it’s a date or something) and plated them up all chic, as you can see on my instagram here.
One thing both groups agreed on was the addition of the slaw and mustard. Arancini are decadent balls of delicious, especially when you add some melty cheese to the middle like I did with these, so having a bit of acidity and freshness was a great match.
|Squash Arancini with Apple Fennel Slaw & Stone Ground Mustard|| |
- 2 cups leftover risotto is ideal but if you don't have any...
- 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- Olive oil
- 2 Tbsp butter
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
- 1 cup arborio rice
- ⅓ cup dry white wine (optional)
- 4 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
- ¼ parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and grated
- ¼ cup finely sliced fennel bulb
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 eggs
- 1¾ cups breadcrumbs
- Brie, cut into ½ inch cubes (optional)
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Grainy mustard
- If you don't already have leftover risotto in the fridge... Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil then add the cubed squash. Cook for 10 minutes, until tender. Drain and mash, as you would potatoes, but do not add any additional milk or butter. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a medium-large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until soft but not browned. Add rice and stir. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 2-2 minutes, until the rice is glossy but not browned.
- Add a ladle of stock to the rice mixture and stir. Continue to add ladle after ladle of stock, letting the previous spoonful mostly absorb before adding the next. Stir risotto frequently, to massage out the starch and really add creaminess.
- After half the stock has been added to the rice, add the mashed butternut and let it cook in then continue to add stock.
- Once the risotto is cooked through to your liking (this should take about 40 minutes), remove from heat. Add parmesan cheese and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cool for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight (hence why making more than you need and using leftovers is best 🙂
- In a large bowl, beat eggs. Stir in fully cooled risotto and 1 cup of breadcrumbs.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape mixture into golf ball sized balls- about 1.5 or 2 inches in diameter. If you like, depress a thumbprint in the middle and add a square of brie cheese then roll again between your hands to seal it up inside.
- Fill a medium bowl with the remaining ¾ cup of breadcrumbs. Roll the arancini balls in the breadcrumbs and place them on the parchment paper. Cool for at least 1 more hour (the cooler the balls, the less likely they will fall apart during cooking).
- In a small bowl, mix together all the slaw ingredients and refrigerate until ready to consume.
- Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees. Working in small batches, fry the risotto balls until the outsides are golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel to drain.
- Serve immediately with apple fennel slaw and grainy mustard.