Friday, February 19, 2016

Italian Arancini with Ham and Mozzarella

These Italian rice balls are 
perfectly crispy on the outside, deliciously soft on the inside
 with a scrumptious melted cheese heart
I know you want one!

Happy week to you! I hope your Valentine's weekend was as amazing as mine.
After an unbelievable amount of chocolate and heart-shaped buttery sweets, this week I'm craving something savory and cheesy. Most importantly (just for once!!) I want something not covered in chocolate. Same for you?!?  If so, you are going to LOVE this recipe.  

Aracini are Italian stuffed risotto balls, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried until golden and crispy. I'm sure if you tried these before, you'd remember. 
How can anybody forget the sublime, toasty outer shell, and its rich, soft and super-tasty rice filling?!? If you are anything like me, these would be permanently imprinted on your taste buds' memory :)

Arancini are traditionally filled with rice mixed in Bolognese sauce and peas. But this time I was in the mood for something a bit lighter and faster to prepare. So I stuffed mine with cubed ham and a little mozzarella ball, which gives you a melty, cheesy, oh-my-gosh so delicious center...

See what I mean?!? Unforgettable :)
You can serve arancini balls as appetizer or pick up food at your next party. Fancy enough and a crowd-pleaser, for sure!
If you'd like, you can prepare them ahead of time. But make sure to warm up and serve hot, so you can experience the stringy melted cheese when you dig in for the first bite.

It's all very simple: Start by simmering the rice in vegetable, or chicken stock and let it cool down. Mix in the rest of the ingredients, and make balls adding a little mozzarella in the middle. Roll in breadcrumb and fry to perfection.
This is very important! Make sure to use fresh and heart-healthy oil. Heat the oil to the correct temperature and maintain that temperature while cooking. And finally, let the aracini rest on paper towel to remove any extra oil. If you follow these steps, you'll end up with crispy aracini. Not greasy and oily stuff.
You probably know I'm not a big fan of fried food, but occasionally, if done correctly, it's totally fine... and oh-soooooo good. You know, miraculous things happen when you fry food!

Here is the video recipe for you:

Buon appetito!

Ingredients: to make about 18 arancini, serving about 6 people
  • 4 cups (1 l) of  vegetable (or chicken) broth - I used low sodium
  • 2 cups (400 gr) of arborio rice
  • 1 tablespoon (15 gr) of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup, packed (50 gr) of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 oz (100 gr) of diced ham
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh basil (or more if you like)
  • 2 eggs
  • about 18 pieces (around 5.5 oz, 150 gr) of fresh mozzarella ciliegine *
  • about 3/4 cup (90 gr) of plain breadcrumbs 
  • vegetable oil to fry (I used about 4 cups = 1 liter of olive oil)
  • salt
*if you can't find the small mozzarella balls, buy regular fresh mozzarella and cut it in cubes, about 3/4 inch sides.

Preparation time: about 1 hour and a half

1. Bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, and simmer over medium-low heat until the rice is fully cooked, and the broth is all absorbed.
It should take between 18 to 20 minutes for the rice to be ready. Remember to stir the rice, occasionally at first. and more often at the end. Make sure the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. You might need to add a little bit of water (or broth) toward the end, if there isn't any left, and the rice is not yet ready. Salt to taste, especially if using low sodium broth like I did.

2. Remove the pan from the heat. Add one tablespoon of butter, and mix until combined. Transfer the rice into a large bowl, and let cool for about 15 minutes.

3. Add the Parmesan cheese, diced ham, fresh basil finely chopped, and the two eggs to the rice. Mix well.

4. Spoon some of the rice mixture on the palm of one hand. Add one fresh mozzarella ciliegina in the middle. And cover with another spoonful of rice. Make into a ball. It should be around 2 inches in diameter. Roll the rice ball in plain bread crumbs.

5. Use the rest of the rice mixture and mozzarella balls to make more arancini. I ended up with 18 rice balls.

6. Heat the oil in a saucepan, to 325-350° F (160 - 175° C). If you don't have a deep-fry thermometer like me, just place a wooden spoon in the oil. When you start seeing little bubbles around the stick, you know the oil is ready for frying.
Fry the rice balls in batches, until golden brown. It should take right around 5 minutes for each batch. Remove the aracini from the pan with a slotted spatula and let them drain on paper towel.

Serve hot! And enjoy :)



  1. Thank you for sharing this recipe. My family has always made arancini every year for Christmas. We are branching out and trying new varieties. :)

  2. This is indeed a very great food, thank you for sharing.
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  3. I love mozzarella and I always search for new recipes :) This looks really nice and I need to try it.

    1. Thank you Jonathan!! These are really scrumptious :)

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