Stuffed saffron risotto fritters (Arancini di riso)

Stuffed saffron risotto fritters (Arancini di riso)
  • Serves icon Serves 8-10 for nibbles
  • Time icon Takes about 1 hour to make, plus cooling and chilling

Ingredients

  • 1-1.2 litres fresh chicken stock
  • Small pinch of saffron strands
  • 45g unsalted butter
  • 250g arborio or carnaroli risotto rice
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 25g Grana Padano, finely grated
  • 2 thin slices good-quality cooked ham, coarsely chopped
  • 75g mozzarella, cut into tiny cubes
  • Sunflower or vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 150g fresh white breadcrumbs

Method

  1. Put the stock and saffron in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer gently.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pan over a low heat, add the rice and stir well until all the grains are coated in butter. Add a ladleful of the hot stock and simmer gently, stirring constantly, until it has all been absorbed. Continue adding stock in this way for 20-25 minutes, until the rice is tender and creamy but still al dente.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the egg yolk, grated cheese and some seasoning to taste. Pour into a shallow baking tray, press cling film onto the surface and leave to go cold, then chill for 2 hours.
  4. Make the arancini. Using slightly wet hands, divide the risotto into 30g pieces. Take 1 piece of risotto and flatten to a small disc. Put a large pinch of chopped ham and a few pieces of mozzarella into the centre and shape the rice around the filling into a ball, patching up any gaps with a little more risotto, if necessary. Repeat to make about 20.
  5. Heat a deep-fat fryer or some oil in a large, deep saucepan to 180°C. (To test the temperature, a cube of bread added to the oil should brown in 40 seconds.) Coat the risotto balls in beaten egg, then breadcrumbs and deep-fry in batches for 3-4 minutes, until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot.

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