These arancini have quickly become a holiday favorite with my family. While we don’t do the full blown out Italian seven fishes dinner, we do avoid meat on Christmas Eve and make at least a couple of fish dishes. My mom introduced these rice balls to our vegetarian Christmas Eve menu a few years ago and they were an instant success.
This year I took on the arancini duty and am happy to have this recipe under my belt now. While I usually shy away from things that need to be fried, these are totally worth the effort (and I usually make my husband do the frying part for me)!
2 cups uncooked rice
1 container of small fresh mozzarella balls, cut in half
2 cups breadcrumbs
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
vegetable oil for frying
Note: I’ve found that it’s easier to make this recipe in thirds (as described below) to get the right texture for your rice mixture.
1. Cook the rice according to the instructions on the package and let it cool completely once cooked.
2. Place 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs in a small bowl.
3. When the rice has cooled, add 1/3 of the cooked rice, 1/2 cup of breadcrumb, 2 lightly beaten eggs, 1/3 cup of grated cheese and 1/3 of the chopped basil in a bowl and stir to combine. The mixture should be just a little sticky, so you can easily roll it into a ball. If it’s too sticky, add a bit more rice.
4. Take a small amount of the rice mixture and form it into a ball. Make a small indent in the middle of the ball and place half of one of the small mozzarella balls in it, cover it with a bit more of the rice mixture and roll into a ball.
5. Roll each ball in the bowl of breadcrumbs and then set aside.
6. Continue the same process until all of your rice is used up.
7. Heat about 3 inches of vegetable oil in saucepan on medium heat to 350 degrees. When the oil has reached 350 degrees carefully fry the arancini in small batches for about 4 minutes each, until brown.
8. Place each arancini on a paper towel to drain and serve warm. These pair great with some marinara sauce, enjoy!