Traditional Sicilian Arancini are usually filled with cheese, peas or a simple meat ragu. Small variations throughout Italy, including shape form, have done little to alter their appeal. We are talking about risotto formed around or mixed with cheese, breaded, then fried until crispy after all. This recipe puts a humble but not altogether unfitting twist on the usual stuffing by taking pizza topping royalty, pepperoni and mozzarella and applying them. To really drive the pizza flavour experience home, once fried, they are served with marinara sauce topped with zesty and lightly spiced garlic and herb oil. These freeze extremely well once breaded, so consider making a double batch and having some in stock ready to be fried from frozen when the craving arises, which it will.
Pizza Arancini 10 Steps
Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add in the diced shallots and sweat until soft and translucent, approximately 4-5 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and cook for another 1 minute.
Add in the Arborio rice, kosher salt and some black pepper. Turn the heat to medium and stirring regularly, allow the rice grains to cook and toast until the edges become translucent. Deglaze with the white wine and cook until there is no liquid left in the pan.
Add about 3/4 of a cup of the warm chicken stock, bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the stock is almost completely absorbed, being sure to stir the entire time. Continue adding stock and repeating this process until all of the stock has been incorporated and the rice grains are cooked but still have a bite to them. Remove from the heat, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons unsalted butter as well as the grated Parmigiano cheese. Transfer this cooked risotto onto a baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Place a layer of plastic wrap right on the surface of the risotto and refrigerate for 1 hour.
While the risotto is chilling, prepare the herb and garlic oil. In a small sauce pot, add in the olive oil as well as the minced garlic. Turn the heat on medium high until sizzling and allow to sizzle for 10 seconds before removing from the heat. Stir in the chili flakes then transfer to a heat proof bowl and let cool to room temperature. Stir in the lemon zest, chopped parsley as well as a pinch of kosher salt. Set aside until ready to serve. Note: this herb and garlic oil can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature prior to serving.
Remove the chilled risotto from the fridge, and fold in the shredded mozzarella. Using a 1 ½ oz ice cream scoop, scoop balls into the palm of your hand. Take your thumb and gently press into the centre of the ball to form a divot about 1/2 inch deep, cupping it with the hand holding it to retain its shape. Take 1 piece of the cubed mozzarella as well as 2-3 pieces of the sliced pepperoni and gently push it onto this divot. Begin cupping and pinching the risotto around the cheese and pepperoni to form a sealed ball. Place onto a parchment lined tray or plate and repeat this process until all of the risotto balls have been formed. Place the balls in the freezer for 15 minutes to help firm up.
While the balls are in the freezer, set up breading station: put the all-purpose flour into a shallow bowl, and the beaten eggs into another. Combine the panko as well as Italian breadcrumbs in a mixing bowl together. Season each of these breading steps lightly with salt and black pepper.
Before breading the arancini, slowly bring a pot of canola oil filled up 3 inches high to 350°F in temperature and hold there until ready to fry.
Begin breading the arancini: working with 1-2 balls at a time, first roll in the flour and shake off any excess. Then roll in the egg wash, ensuring that the entire surface of the balls are covered, immediately roll in the breadcrumb mixture and dredge until the entire ball is evenly covered, pressing gently with your hands to make sure the bread crumbs adhere.
Carefully lower the breaded arancini into the heated oil with a slotted spoon or spider and fry for 4-5 minutes or until deep golden brown in colour. Transfer to a paper towel lined tray to drain and cool for a few minutes.
Serve with warmed marinara sauce as well as the herb and garlic oil.