As a child, one of my main food groups was mozzarella sticks. Seriously. My parents could not take me out to eat unless the place served hot dogs or mozzarella sticks without appearing as if they were depriving their daughter of food. My tastes have matured a bit since then (although I am slightly ashamed to say I do love a good hot dog and won't turn down a mozzarella stick). Arancini are fried rice balls filled with gooey cheese, tomato sauce and meat...aka grown-up mozzarella sticks for a grown-up Caitlin.
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon freshly grated Asiago
1/2 cup ground beef
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
3 1/2 ounces Mozzarella cheese, diced
1/2 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
Vegetable Olive (<-my mother scolded me for suggesting vegetable in place of olive oil) oil, for frying
Cook rice in boiling chicken broth until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid. Put rice in bowl and add 1/2 of the butter and the Parmesan and Asiago cheeses. Spread rice out on (clean!!) counter and let cool.
Use remaining butter and melt in medium saute pan. Add beef and cook, turning occasionally to brown. Drain beef fat. Add white wine to beef and cook until evaporated. Mix in tomato paste, freshly ground black pepper and salt lightly. Add some crushed red pepper if you prefer spicier food. Cook about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat.
Form cooled rice into small balls about the size of tangerines. Poke a hole down the center and fill with a little basil, tomato meat sauce and a chunk of Parmesan. Seal with more rice.
Heat oil in a deep-fryer or pan over high heat so that a drop of egg sizzles when it hits the oil.
Beat 2 eggs in shallow mixing bowl. Place bread crumbs in separate bowl next to eggs. Dip rice balls in eggs so that they are lightly coated and then dip in bread crumbs. Ensure the balls are coated with bread crumbs but shake off any excess.
Deep fry the rice balls until golden brown all over. Drain well on paper towels.