Pictures and recipe courtesy of Carol Mauro McKenna
Cook the packaged risotto according to instructions on package and set aside to cool (2 packages will make approx. 14-16 arancine.) I use Premium Risotto Milanese style, so it already has saffron in it, which is the way it was originally made. I found it at my local Shop-Rite in the rice aisle. Meanwhile, I sweat half of a large onion finely chopped, along with 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, then add 1lb of ground beef and cook, salt and pepper to taste (I also use Adobo as a complete seasoning).Once almost fully cooked, I drain most of the fat, than add tomato sauce or plum tomatoes or diced tomatoes….whatever you have at hand….but just enough to coat the meat sauce…I would say about half of a 28oz can and stir well. Add more salt n pepper to taste (or Adobo). It is important to gently season every step of the way. Finally, I stir in about 2 cups of frozen peas (or more according to how you like it). Keep cooking it for a couple of minutes then turn off and set aside to cool off. While the meat is cooling off, I prepare my assembly stations: a dish with 2 whisked eggs, a tbsp. of milk and salt n pepper, another dish with Italian style bread crumbs and a few sprinkles of parmesan cheese, and another dish with shredded or diced mozzarella. I then set a deep pan for frying. I like mixing 2 parts of vegetable oil to 1 part olive oil and let it warm up until ready for frying (I put a wooden spoon at the bottom of the pan, to see if it’s ready. If it looks like it’s bubbling around the spoon, then you’ll know it’s ready.) I assemble right next to the sink, because you need to continuously rinse out your hands…..plus keeping your hands wet, it allows for the rice balls to form easier (or if you prefer, you can add one whisked egg to the cooled rice, to help binding it – I don’t want to use the raw egg in it, so I just keep my hands wet, and since the risotto has a bit of a mushy/sticky consistency to it, it works fine with wet hands.) Now you take about 2 heaping tablespoon of risotto and put it in your hand as if you are forming half of the rice ball, by creating a small well in your hand. Make sure the layer of risotto used, it’s not too thick, to avoid a rice ball with too much risotto and not enough filing. Then, add 1 to 2 tsp of the cooled meat, a tsp or two of shredded mozzarella or a couple of diced pieces, then take another amount of rice, with your other wet hand, and cover the other filled part, by trying to create the filled rice into a ball shape. Your wet hands will help the process and also, a bit of patience. Once your ball is formed, I put it in the egg mixture, then bread crumbs mixture, and set aside. I cook them in batches of 2 or 3, just to make sure you don’t burn them, and to make sure the oil temperature stays consistent. I keep turning them in the oil for about 3 or 4 minutes each (it depends from the size), then take them out and let them drain on a tray lined with paper towel. Make sure to wait a couple of minutes before eating them. They taste better at room temperature than hot, but that’s just my opinion…..oh yeah, and make sure to make lots of them…..they are DIVINE!!!!!!
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