oven baked mushroom arancini
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Arancini are leftover risotto balls stuffed with ham or mozzarella, then fried or baked crisp. You don’t make arancini from scratch which is the only reason I hardly ever make them. My risottos are too good for any leftovers to remain!
Don’t we all love things stuffed with cheese and fried crisp in a crunchy coating? I certainly do; give me croquettes or fritters every day please.
There’s an interesting question here, at least for me who loves the semantics almost as much as the food itself: croquettes or fritters? I was surprised recently to find what they named ‘chicken fritters’ at an otherwise excellent place in Scarborough was what I’d call croquettes; small neat balls of mashed up chicken encased in crunchy coating. Chef’s choice, but I had always known fritters as flat, pancake-style, eggy patties. Corn fritters, courgette fritters, even ham fritters: you add your key ingredient to beaten eggs, thicken it up with breadcrumbs, cheese or both and fry like blinis.
Croquettes are usually made to use up leftover meat or vegetables: like German potato croquettes, Spanish croquetas de jamon or pollo, French meat croquettes or rissoles. Along this line of thinking arancini are most certainly closer related to croquettes than to fritters.
I don’t make arancini often but that’s not through being lazy – they’re easy, especially the baked version; or not liking them – oh, puh-leeze! who wouldn’t! No, the only reason they are hard to come by in this house is because I never have any leftover risotto. And like you wouldn’t start making turkey curry with a trussed turkey going in the oven, you don’t make arancini from scratch – it just isn’t an Italian thing; also, try and shape warm risotto into balls. You need leftover, cold risotto, and the fact there’s never too much of it makes the arancini even more preciously delicious.
I do try: calculate the amounts for six when I want to feed four, cook it as a side dish rather than a main in the hope it will not all be gone – in vain; there’s hardly ever enough left. So nothing else remains to do than make it not quite so tasty the next time I cook it…
oven baked mushroom aranciniServings: makes 8 aranciniTime: 45 minutes
- 400g (2 cups) cold mushroom risotto
- 2 slices prosciutto
- 1 small ball of mozzarella, dices in 8 pieces
- 2 sprigs of fresh basil, leaves stripped and roughly torn
- plain flour, for dredging
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water
- 100g (1 cup) Panko breadcrumbs
- oil spray
1. Use the risotto cold from the fridge. Scoop tablespoon of risotto and flatten to a disc on a chopping board. Place a chunk of mozzarella, a strip of ham and a pile of basil leaves in the middle. Scoop and shape to a ball with wet hands. Continue with the next balls.
2. Place the flour and breadcrumbs on two shallow plates and the egg in a bowl. Dredge each arancino in flour, roll in the egg mix and then in the breadcrumbs to coat thoroughly. You can shape it with a pointy top if you like.
3. Continue with the remaining arancini and place them all on a paper towel. Chill in the fridge while the oven heats up to 190C/375F/gas 5.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Arrange arancini on the paper and spray generously with oil. Bake for 30 minutes until golden. The cheese might leak in places but that’s the price of oven baking them instead of deep frying.
5. Serve hot with a dipping sauce and/or rocket leaves.