me I last had arancini when I had lunch with Emily Watkins, a brilliant and inspiring chef who used to run the Kingham Plow in Oxfordshire. She made them for us as a pre-dinner snack, and I immediately made a mental note to do it myself. They were crisp, golden, and absurdly delicious, and they kept a hungry group extremely happy. Here, the haunting, vaguely pungent and deeply evocative smell of truffle oil lends itself well to melted mozzarella and porcini-scented rice for a celebratory treat. Store the oil in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.
Truffle, cheesy arancini bites
These can be kept warm in a low oven for an hour or two, which means they’re perfect to make ahead.
Make Around 30
Homework 15 min, plus soak
Cold 1 hour +
Cook 1 hour and 15 minutes
30 g of dried boletus
40 g unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
300 g risotto rice
Salt and black pepper
150ml white wine
50 grams Parmesan, grated
1-2 tablespoons truffle oil, more extra, to taste
150g of mozzarella for cooking, cut into 30 pieces
To cover and serve
125 g all-purpose flour, seasoned
3 eggs, shaken with a splash of milk
200g dry breadcrumbs
1 liter of vegetable oil, for frying
A handful of curly parsley, finely chopped (optional)
Cover the porcini with a liter of boiling water and soak for 20 minutes. Once soaked, scoop out the porcini, chop finely, and keep the liquid warm.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic for 10 minutes, until they soften. Add the rice and add the fat for a few minutes, before adding the porcini and seasoning generously.
Pour in the wine, stir, and allow the liquid to reduce by half. Begin adding the porcini liquid, one ladle at a time, stirring frequently and waiting for the previous ladle to absorb before adding more. Continue stirring and adding for 15-20 minutes until the rice is cooked. Remove from the heat and add the truffle oil and Parmesan, and season to taste. Spread out on a baking sheet to cool, then chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two, or overnight.
Line a tray with parchment paper and place heaping tablespoons of risotto in your hand, making a dent in the middle of each to fit a chunk of mozzarella. Squeeze the risotto around the cheese to make neat balls, then place on the tray.
Put the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs on separate plates and prepare another tray with greaseproof paper. Roll each ball in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and place on second tray; refrigerate. These can now be refrigerated.
When you’re ready to eat, fill a deep skillet halfway with oil and heat to 150C-160C (plus or minus a piece of sizzling bread). Fry in small batches, being careful not to overcrowd, for four to six minutes until golden brown and crisp throughout. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with finely chopped parsley or keep in a hot oven.
And for the rest of the week …
Experiment with different toppings – saffron, squid ink, or chorizo work well, and try other soft cheeses in the center.
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