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Saffron Arancini


Arancini are a delicious and fun appetizer that originated as a way to use leftover risotto. Arancini can be prepped one day ahead and then fried just before serving. Enjoy with the Vine Hill Pinot Noir.

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    Total Time 4 hours

    Prep Time 45 minutes

    Difficulty Level Medium


    1 big pinch saffron threads

    2 tbsp unsalted butter

    1/2 c finely diced yellow onion


    Freshly ground black pepper

    1 c Arborio or Carnaroli rice

    1/4 c white wine

    6 c chicken or vegetable stock

    1/2 c Parmesan

    20 1/3-inch cubes of firm Mozzarella

    2 eggs, beaten

    2 c plain fine bread crumbs

    2 qt canola oil

    Homemade or store-bought marinara for dipping


    1. Steep saffron in 1/2 cup boiling water to release its color and set aside. Heat the stock in a separate sauce pan to a simmer.

    2. Melt the butter in a deep heavy bottomed sauce pan. When it bubbles and starts to turn golden, add the onions and sauté them until they are translucent and tender, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

    3. Add the rice to the pot and sauté it until it just begins to color. Add the white wine and steeped saffron with steeping water, bring to a boil quickly and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the wine is absorbed. Start adding the simmering stock one ladle at a time.

    4. Wait until the rice absorbs most of the stock before adding more. Continue to cook adding the stock and stirring the rice constantly, to prevent it from sticking on the bottom of the pan.

    5. About 12 minutes in start, testing the rice. Each grain should be creamy on the outside and have just a little texture in the middle. Keep adding stock until it reaches this state.

    6. The grains should be silky and slide easily over one another when a spoon is drawn through. If this is not the case, add a little more stock to loosen the grains.

    7. Fold in the Parmesan and season the risotto with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the risotto onto a sheet pan and spread 1-inch thick to facilitate faster cooling.

    8. Chill uncovered in the refrigerator until the rice is cold and stiff, about 3 hours.

    9. To make the Arancini, whisk the eggs together in a shallow bowl and season with 1 teaspoon salt.

    10. Place the breadcrumbs in another shallow bowl and season with salt. Remove the rice from the refrigerator. Scoop up a heaping tablespoon of rice, form it into a ball, then press 1 cube of the mozzarella cheese into the center.

    11. Form the rice around it. Place the Arancini on a sheet pan until all have been formed.

    12. Roll the Arancini in the egg. Let the excess drip off and then roll them in the breadcrumbs to fully coat. Place them on a rack or non stick sheet pan. When all of the balls are coated, place the rack in the refrigerator uncovered to air dry the Arancini for at least one hour.

    13. This will create a crispier shell when they are fried. Heat the oil in a 4 quart pan to 350 degrees F. Fry the Arancini 6 at a time so they have plenty of room and the oil temperature stays constant.

    14. Fry until golden, about 4 minutes Drain on paper towels and let cool for at least 3 minutes before serving.

    15. Warn guests that the Arancini are very hot inside, so care must be taken not to burn their mouths. Serve with warm marinara for dipping.

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