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45 mins
6 balls

Arancini literally translates as ‘small oranges’ and they are traditionally made with yesterday’s leftover risotto. Now I don’t know about you, but in my experience there is no such thing as yesterday’s leftover risotto; I find it impossible not to eat everything I make. If you are one of those enviable types who has willpower, then you can use whatever spare risotto you have in the fridge. If you’re like me, you’ll have to start from scratch.

It is important to note that when making risotto generally, it is always better to serve it ‘al dente’, that is, with a little bit of bite to the grains. But when you use leftover risotto, it has had more time to absorb more moisture and naturally will be softer. This is exactly the texture that works best for arancini. When cooking from scratch, you have to override your instinct to stop cooking at ‘al dente’ and cook the rice for a few moments more than normal.

Recipe courtesy of
  • 40ml olive oil
  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 1 zucchino, grated
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • Flaky sea salt and black pepper
  • Leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 500g risotto rice – carnaroli is best
  • 1/2 glass of white wine
  • 1 good handful of freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 x 150g ball of buffalo mozzarella
  • Instant polenta or fine cornmeal
  • 1 litre vegetable oil, for deep-frying
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  1. Gently heat the olive oil and half the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sweat the zucchino and diced shallot and add salt and pepper. Stir in the thyme.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable stock up in another saucepan.
  3. When the shallots turn translucent, add the rice and gently heat, stirring, for 5 minutes on a low flame. You want to make sure that every grain is coated and shiny but the rice and vegetables must not turn brown.
  4. Add the white wine at this stage.
  5. When the wine has been absorbed, add the hot vegetable stock, one ladle at a time, making sure the rice is always submerged, stirring gently from time to time.
  6. When the rice is fully cooked (about 15–20 minutes), finish with a handful of grated Parmesan and the rest of the butter. Check that the rice is well seasoned.
  7. Take the pan off the heat and spread the risotto onto flat plates or a tray to cool. Cut the mozzarella into little cubes.
  8. When the rice is cool, roll into golf-ball-sized spheres with a cube of mozzarella in the middle.
  9. Roll each ball in the polenta or cornmeal and deep-fry until golden brown (usually about 2–3 minutes).
  10. Don’t be afraid of deep-frying, even if you are not used to it. Simply put a litre of vegetable oil so it half fills a deep pan and bring the temperature up to 190.C (or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil turns golden in less than a minute). Use tongs or a slotted spoon to move the arancini around and drain them on kitchen paper.
  11. You need to serve your arancini immediately. They don’t last long and are disappointing when cold. You want the mozzarella to be really stringy when the little balls are bitten into. For a bit of fun, skewer each with a toothpick and serve them like small lollipops.

The Pass was created to help the many people now struggling to feed themselves and their families as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. If you like or use this recipe, please consider making a small donation to Hospitality Action to help those whose livelihoods have all but disappeared.

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