Friday, January 11, 2013

Pea and Prosciutto Arancini (and a Giveaway)

Pea and Prosciutto Arancini - Photo by Taste As You Go
Pea and Prosciutto Arancini

I wish I could remember where I was the first time I had arancini. It wasn't something I grew up eating, as my family doesn't have Italian roots. The introduction to these fried rice balls had to have occurred within the last decade though, since the memory of my first encounter with them includes Stephen. Whatever the circumstances were that led me to cross paths with these tasty little bites, I'm eternally grateful.

Lidia's Favorite Recipes by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali - Photo by Taste As You Go
Lidia's Favorite Recipes by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali

When I discovered a recipe for Rice Balls - Arancini di Riso in my copy of Lidia Bastianich's latest cookbook, Lidia's Favorite Recipes, I just knew that I had to try it. It was time to see if I was capable of making one of my all-time favorite appetizers at home.

Pea and Prosciutto Risotto for Arancini (Fried Rice Balls) - Photo by Taste As You Go
Pea and Prosciutto Risotto for Arancini

The key to making really great arancini is making sure the rice mixture at the heart of the dish is flavorful before you shape it into balls, cover it with breadcrumbs, and fry it gently in a skillet. Lidia's recipe called for simple ingredients all easily available at my local grocery store -- prosciutto, green peas, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and fresh mozzarella. 


Pea and Prosciutto Arancini - Photo by Taste As You Go
Pea and Prosciutto Arancini

Even the general process of making the arancini themselves was simple. Simple... but tedious. I put myself through a lot of work to make these for dinner on a weeknight.

(Yes, for dinner. All by themselves. They were too damn good to share the spotlight with anything else.)

Pea and Prosciutto Arancini - Photo by Taste As You Go
Pea and Prosciutto Arancini 

The effort was totally worth it, as the final product came out crispy on the outside and deliciously creamy on the inside. And putting a cube of fresh mozzarella in the center of each rice ball created a delightful oozy bite. (Or, couple of bites... these arancini turned out on the relatively large side.)

Pea and Prosciutto Arancini - Photo by Taste As You Go
Pea and Prosciutto Arancini 

I served the Pea and Prosciutto Arancini with some spicy marinara sauce on the side for dipping, and it went over really well with Stephen. So, I think it's safe to say that these fried rice balls are husband-approved. *wink*

I'm so grateful for having had the opportunity to read through Lidia Bastianich's cookbook and to try one of her favorite recipes. The likelihood of me making her Arancini di Riso for dinner again is small, but I'm definitely going to keep her recipe on my list of dishes to make the next time Stephen and I have a party or have friends over for dinner!

Cookbook Giveaway

Would you like the chance to try Lidia's recipes in your own kitchen? Enter to win this cookbook giveaway for one copy of Lidia's Favorite Recipes by leaving a comment on this post letting me know what your favorite Italian dish is.

For additional entries, share the link to this post on your favorite social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest). For each share, leave an additional comment on this post letting me know what you've done.

The giveaway will end at midnight, EST, on Friday, January 18th. The winner will be chosen via Random.org and notified via a valid email address.

Good luck! Now... onto the recipe.

Pea and Prosciutto Arancini (Rice Balls - Arancini di Riso)
Makes about 2 dozen

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup finely diced ham or prosciutto (about 3 ounces) -- I used prosciutto.
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese -- I used Parmigiano-Reggiano.
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (you'll need about 24 cubes) - I used bocconcini cut into quarters.
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups fine dry breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil for frying

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan; when the oil is hot, add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ham or prosciutto, and cook a few minutes, until the meat begins to render its fat.

Add the rice, and cook to coat the rice in the oil and fat. Pour in the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook until the wine is almost reduced away. Add 3 cups hot chicken stock and the salt; cover, and simmer until the chicken stock is absorbed by the rice, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups of stock, and cover, letting the rice cook until al dente, about 6 to 7 minutes more. Stir in peas toward the end, and mix well; spread the rice on a rimmed sheet pan to cool.

When the rice is cool, put it in a bowl and stir in the grated cheese and chopped basil. Scoop out about 1/3 cup rice, roll into a loose ball, then poke a cube of mozzarella into the center. Pat firmly to form a tight ball around the cheese.

Spread the flour and breadcrumbs on two rimmed plates, and beat eggs in a shallow bowl. Dredge the arancini in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip them one by one in the beaten egg, letting the excess drop back into the bowl. Roll in the breadcrumbs to coat thoroughly.

Pour an inch of vegetable oil into a large straight-sided skillet set over medium heat. Fry in batches, taking care not to crowd the skillet, turning on all sides, until golden, about 3 minutes per batch. Drain the arancini on paper towels, and season with salt while still warm.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Alfred A. Knopf.


Taste As You Go Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of Lidia's Favorite Recipes at no cost to me. Alfred A. Knopf will be providing the prize for this cookbook giveaway and will send the prize directly to the winner. I did not accept monetary compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.



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