Balls of Fire: Baked Arancini Balls (with pineapple dipping sauce)

Music Pairing: Verdi, La Traviata (Ah, Forse lui sempre)

Story

One sunny Friday, we were clearing and organizing our fridge to prepare for our weekly shopping and influx of new produce.  There was a batch of leftover risotto, which came out ok, but it was one of those instances where it was not likely to be eaten again.  We felt there needed to be a way to make into something interesting and repurpose the perfectly good ingredients.  As such the first thing that came to mind was arancini balls, which we eat occasionally at Italian restaurants.  However, deep frying is not an art practiced in our household, pretty much ever, so we came up with a baked version, which went over much better.  This is an extremely simple recipe when you have leftover risotto, chilled in your fridge.  However, if you feel like making the risotto from scratch first, we are sharing that step, as well.  Pour yourself a Pinot Grigio and invite the whole family to enjoy, paired with the voice of the one and only Ailyn Perez in La Traviata.  If you don’t know her voice, we encourage you to discover it at once!

Recipe

Risotto (preferably made in advance and chilled to room temperature and then in the fridge)

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion – finely chopped
  • 10 asparagus stalks, finely chopped
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 4 sun dried tomatoes – finely chopped
  • 250g (1 1/2 cups) Arborio or bomba rice
  • 6 cup of Stock (broth) (boiled water with celery, onion and any chosen vegetables, 3 bay leaves, 4 peppercorns and 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cups parmesan cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a pan, add the onions, asparagus and garlic, and fry on a low heat for about 5 mins.
  2. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and fry for a further 5 mins. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat slightly
  3. Continually stir the rice for about a minute or two, but not longer
  4. Turn down the heat and add 2 ladles of hot stock and continue to stir. Once absorbed add another ladle of stock and keep stirring. Continue adding the stock, a ladle at a time, until the rice is cooked al dente
  5. Remove from the heat and add the parmesan cheese

FOR THE ARANCINI

  1. For one cup of chilled risotto, add 1 beaten egg and 1/3 cup of flour
  2. Add 1/3 finely chopped habanero pepper
  3. Mix the ingredients thoroughly, forming small balls (perhaps 2 tbsp each)
  4. Cover each ball in bread crumbs (you should need about ½ cup total)
  5. Place the balls on a cooking sheet on tin foil and spray them thoroughly with an olive oil spray
  6. Place to bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown
  7. Remove and enjoy promptly, while hot

AND THE PINEAPPLE DIPPING SAUCE

  1. In a food processor, combine 4-6 cubes of pineapple and crush it to a desired consistency
  2. Add 2 cloves of garlic, 4-6 leaves of fresh mint, ½ teaspoon of tequila and a pinch of cayenne pepper
  3. Give it another crush and served either chilled or slightly heated

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