Monday, October 28, 2019

A is for: Arancini Skewers {Risotto Balls}


I'm a sucker for cheese and charcuterie.

Like, if you are a restaurant and you have some sort of meat and cheese plate on your menu, chances are, I'm ordering it. And when I'm entertaining, you can almost count on the fact there will be some sort of board filled with Italian meats, cheeses, olives, nuts, dried fruit and those adorable mini pickles.

So when Icons of European Taste reached out about a potential collaboration, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. Create a recipe using Prosciutto di San Daniele and Grana Padano?

Sign. Me. Up.

I immediately began cooking up ideas in my brain... pasta, mini pizzas, crostatas, meatballs, deviled eggs, prosciutto wrapped asparagus... the list was extensive. But the idea that really resonated on both sides was Arancini... or if you're like my boyfriend and get annoyed by fancy names: risotto balls. They've been on my list for awhile to create for the blog, so I was super excited to come up with a version for these very special Italian products.

*This post is in paid partnership with Icons of European Taste.


Grana Padano is Italy's most popular hard grating cheese. "Grana" actually means hard grating cheese, and "Padano" refers to the region in Italy where the cheese must be produced in order to sell under that name. It's great on its own (aka... served on a antipasto board, or as a snack while you're cooking) but it's also an amazing grating cheese and works perfectly in risotto. 


As for the Prosciutto di San Daniele, this is all-natural and dry cured for at least 13 months. It is produced in North Eastern Italy, farther to the north of Prosciutto di Parma. The two products are very similar, but each have a subtly different look and flavor due to terroir and climate. I chose Prosciutto di San Daniele for its slightly salty and sweet flavor. 


Of course, to make risotto balls, you first need some risotto! To highlight the flavor of the Grana Padano, I kept the risotto simple and made a "cacio e pepe" risotto with the cheese and freshly cracked black pepper. The risotto was delicious on its own, but turning it into Arancini makes for the best appetizers, which is perfect for the holiday entertaining season.



Once your risotto has cooked, spread it onto a metal sheet pan. This will help halt the cooking process and also speed up the cooling process, as you will need cold risotto to form the Arancini. Cover and refrigerate until completely cooled. (This can also be done the day before.)


Arancini are traditionally stuffed with cheese, so I selected some Fontina, as I love its mild, nutty flavor and melting qualities. Cut the fontina into small squares, about 1/3” to 1/2” cubes. Take a spoonful of chilled risotto in your hand, and place a square of cheese in the middle. Pinch the sides up so that the rice completely envelops the cheese. Place each finished ball onto a parchment lined sheet pan. This is an extremely messy process, so just embrace it! Once you have finished the entire batch, place the pan in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to firm up.


Time for more messy fingers! Remove risotto balls from freezer and roll each ball in seasoned flour, then coat with egg, then breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess along the way. Place on a parchment lined sheet pan. Your fingers will sort of look like ET. (That’s a a sign you’re doing it right. )Once you have breaded all of the Arancini, place back in the fridge while you prepare the oil. (You can also do this ahead of time, and refrigerate until you are ready to fry and serve.)


Pour oil into a heavy bottomed pot (such as a dutch oven) until about 1" deep. Using a thermometer, heat oil until it reaches 350 degrees. Fry balls in batches, turning as necessary, until all sides are golden brown. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and continue this process until all of the Arancini are cooked. (Make sure to check the oil temperature in between batches so that you are always frying at 350 degrees.)


To serve, take a piece or two of Prosciutto di San Daniele and accordion-fold it onto a skewer. Place the risotto balls on a serving platter and pierce the prepared skewer on top. Sprinkle with minced parsley and freshly grated Grana Padano! I still recommend eating these with a fork, as they are slightly large for a one-bite appetizer, but the skewer makes for a beautiful presentation and easy grabbing for guests to place on their cocktail plates.


These are best enjoyed warm... so that the cheese oozes out when you take that first delicious bite. These are great as-is, or with a side of marinara for dipping. Buon Apetito!


What kind of appetizers are YOU making this holiday season? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments section.



Arancini Skewers

Ingredients

+For Risotto+
4 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup of dry, white Italian wine
2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, small diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup of Arborio or Carnaroli rice
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 cup freshly shredded Grana Padano cheese

+For Arancini+
8 ounces Fontina cheese, cut into 1/3” cubes
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups Italian style bread crumbs
32 ounce bottle of Safflower oil, for frying

+For Skewers+
16-20 cocktail skewers
4 ounces thinly sliced Prosciutto di San Daniele 
freshly grated Grana Padano (for garnish)
minced parsley (for garnish)
warm marinara sauce (for dipping)


Instructions

+For Risotto+
Bring the broth and the wine to a simmer in a medium sized pot over moderate heat. When the liquid begins to simmer, lower the burner to the lowest setting and cover it. It should be barely simmering.

Melt the butter in a wide-bottomed sauté pan set over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until the onions become very soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the rice and stir frequently until the edges of the rice start to become translucent, about 2 minutes. Season with kosher salt and a little black pepper.

Add a ladleful (1/2 cup) of the simmering broth to the rice, stirring occasionally until the liquid has been absorbed into the rice. Repeat this procedure until rice is tender, but still a bite to it (you might not use all of the broth.)

Stir in Grana Padano and season with salt and generously with freshly cracked black pepper. Remove from heat. 

Spread cooked risotto onto a metal sheet pan. Cover and refrigerate until completely cooled. (This can also be done the day before.)

+For Arancini+
Take a spoonful of chilled risotto in your hand, and place a square of cheese in the middle. Pinch the sides up so that the rice completely envelops the cheese. Place each finished ball onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Once you have finished the entire batch, place the pan in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to firm up.

While risotto balls rest in freezer, prepare your breading. In one bowl, place a 1/2 cup of all purpose flour and season it with salt and pepper. In a second bowl, lightly whisk two large eggs with a splash of water and season with salt and pepper. In a third bowl, add 1.5 cups of Italian-style breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper.

Roll each ball in seasoned flour, then coat with egg, then breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess along the way. Place on a parchment lined sheet pan. Once you have breaded all of the Arancini, place back in the fridge while you prepare the oil. (You can also do this ahead of time, and refrigerate until you are ready to fry and serve.)

Pour oil into a heavy bottomed pot (such as a dutch oven) until about 1" deep. Using a thermometer, heat oil until it reaches 350 degrees. Fry balls in batches, turning as necessary, until all sides are golden brown. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and continue this process until all of the Arancini are cooked. (Make sure to check the oil temperature in between batches so that you are always frying at 350 degrees.)

+For Skewers+
To serve, take a piece or two of Prosciutto di San Daniele and accordion-fold it onto a skewer. Place the risotto balls on a serving platter and pierce the prepared skewer on top. Sprinkle with minced parsley and freshly grated Grana Padano! Serve hot as-is, or with warm marinara for dipping.



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