This is my absolute favourite Monday night treat.
There are several reasons for this. Firstly, it’s Monday. If there is any night of the week when I am particularly susceptible to the lure of fried foods, it’s Monday. Secondly, I am a lot more likely to have leftover risotto and mozzarella hanging around my house on a Monday than any other night of the week. They have to be eaten, so our second reason is convenience. Thirdliciously, they have just the right combination of utility and cuteness to remind us that kitchen fun should not simply be reserved for the weekend.
Trashing the kitchen is fun all the time, always!
Are you a kitchen trasher? I am. I don’t even want to be, but I’m one of those poor unfortunate klutzes who simply cannot help themselves. I think my main problem in laziness, and a desperate desire to minimise the number of dishes I use.
For example, I will always use the smallest possible container for any task. If I have to pour some breadcrumbs out of the food processor into a bowl (as I did indeed do for this recipe), then I want that bowl to be the tiniest bowl that will be up to the job. As you can imagine, this often results in spillage and overflowing! Que sera, sera.
I am often told that people who cook pastry are the perfectionist type. And my star-sign Virgo is also meant to be a bit anal-retentive. Well, I’ve always been one to buck a trend. You honestly couldn’t find a more haphazard pastry baker than me. The oozier, the gooier, the drippier the better I say!
I read a quote somewhere, I totally can’t remember it, but it was to the effect that the foods that look a little lopsided or droopy are the ones you can tell are made with love. I thought that was beautiful when I read it, and I have forever-after used it as an excuse for my shoddy work!
So now, these arancini. They are little bundles of leftover tomato risotto (though almost any risotto would do), stuffed with a dainty cube of mozzarella and crumbed with a mixture of polenta and breadcrumbs. If you are a sufferer of Monday-itis, I strongly suggest you turn to the arancini. Make your risotto on Saturday (a great day for making risotto), and eat your fill. Save the leftovers tucked away at the back of the fridge and whip them out on Monday. Then it’s all hands on deck for kitchen fun, rolling, stuffing, dusting, dunking crumbing, and frying. Finally followed by a sprinkling of salt, and then it’s crunch, munch, chew. So simple. So good. I strongly advise a Monday night beer alongside. Or perhaps a cider? Or a nice Italian red. Your call.
Tomato and Mozzarella Arancini Recipe
An original recipe by Sarah Coates for The Sugar Hit.
Makes approx 8 arancini
350g (2 cups) leftover tomato risotto (recipe below) (more or less is fine, simply scale everything up accordingly)
100g (3 oz) mozzarella, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup polenta
1 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Flavourless oil, for frying
Grab all the ingredients out of the fridge and set the risotto and mozzarella aside, ready to go. Next, set up your crumbing production line. So, place the eggs in their own small bowl, season well and whisk them thouroughly. Place the flour into another small bowl and season it. Place the polenta and breadcrumbs into another small bowl or plate and stir them together.
Next, start rolling the arancini. I like to use an ice-cream scoop and wet hands to shape them. So grab out a scoop of the cold rice, and place into your hand. Take a cube of mozzarella and put it in the centre of the rice and then squeeze and cup the rice around the cheese, so that it is completely enveloped in a ball. Next gently roll the ball, before gently rolling it into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs, then set it aside. If the crumb coat looks patchy you can dip it into the egg and then the breadcrumbs again for a double coat. Repeat until all the rice is used. Finally, place a frying pan over a medium heat and fill with around 2 cm (1 inch) of oil. Once the oil reaches about 180C (350F) or when a piece of bread bubbles gently immediately on being placed in the oil, you are ready to fry the arancini for about 1 minute and a half, before turning them and frying for another minute. Once fried, drain them on some brown paper, sprinkle with a little sea salt and eat!
Roasted Tomato Risotto
An original recipe by Sarah Coates for The Sugar Hit
500g cherry tomatoes
15g (1tbsp) butter
1 clove of garlic
3 parsley stalks (I use these because I can’t stand celery, but a small stick of celery would be more traditional)
200g arborio rice
125ml (1/2 cup) white wine or vermouth
500g boiling water
Parmesan cheese, to taste
salt and pepper
Firstly, place the cherry tomatoes, halved on a lined baking sheet into the oven at 250C (450F) oven to roast for around 15 minutes, or until they are wilted and beginning to blacken slightly. For the rice, set a medium frying pan over a low-medium heat, and add the butter and a little oil. Add the shallots, garlic and parsley stalks, finely diced to the pan with a pinch of salt and cook until softened and translucent. Tip in the rice and stir it around to coat and toast for one minute. Add the wine or vermouth and let it cook away. Here is the low and slow part; for the next 15 to 20 minutes slowly add splashes of boiling water to the pan, stirring gently and letting each cook away. At the 15 minute mark, begin tasting the rice to see if it is cooked. It should be slightly too hard at this point. Now, take 2/3 of the roasted tomatoes and force them through a sieve onto the risotto, making sure to get as much pulp as possible. Stir this through and season to taste with salt and pepper. Once the rice is cooked to your liking, turn off the heat, and add as much parmesan cheese, finely grated, as you like. Let it rest for a few minutes, and then serve topped with the remaining roasted tomatoes and a little more cheese.