Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vialone Nano & Arancini

Lately we've been experimenting with different types of "risotto rice". Most folks have probably used Arborio - it's available in most grocery stores and makes a decent risotto when treated properly. Next most common is Carnaroli. It's also widely available and many people consider it the "best" for risotto. We recently bought some Acquerello brand Carnaroli and while it was notably better in risotto - both creamier and more forgiving of stirring lapses - it didn't really live up to the significant price difference.

So this week we tried out the third of the famous risotto rices: Vialone Nano and what a difference. In our little kitchen there was just no comparison. It cooked perfectly and easily, the price is reasonable and the finished arancini held beautifully. So here's what we did:

Saffron Risotto

1 cup Vialone Nano rice
2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 Tbs Butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 shallot, minced
1 large pinch saffron threads
1 quart chicken stock


Bring the chicken stock to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan and add the saffron threads.

Place the oil and butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter foam subsides, add the minced shallot and cook until softened.

Add the rice to the shallot mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice begins to become translucent.

Add the white wine and simmer, stirring until it its completely absorbed. You may ned to reduce the heat further to keep it from boiling away.

Continue the process with half cups of the hot stock until the rice is completely cooked and creamy. It should be quite wet. If you use Vialone Nano it will take the full quart of stock.

When the rice is done pour it out onto a large tray (we used a jelly roll pan) and allow it to cool completely.



Saffron Risotto
Fresh Mozarella, cut into quarter inch dice
3 eggs, beaten until uniformly colored
Panko or plain bread crumbs
Oil for deep frying


In a large bowl thoroughly mix the eggs and saffron risotto.

To form the arancini take a heaping tablespoon of the risotto mixture in one hand, place a cube of mozzarella in the center and form it into a ball. Place each ball on a tray (that will fit into your refrigerator) as it is made. When all the rice has been used you should have about 16 arancini (I got 14 from this batch). Cover them and pop the tray into the 'fridge for an hour or so to let them firm up.

Coat the arancini with panko

When the arancini are chilled, place the panko or breadcrumbs on a large plate and carefully bread each one. I found that panko stuck to the balls very well without additional egg wash. YMMV.

Carefully deep fry...

Once all the arancini are breaded heat enough oil in a medium sauce pan to allow the arancini to be completely covered. Carefully monitor the temperature of the oil and when it reaches 375 fry the arancini in small batches (no more than 2 or 3). Transfer the finished arancini to paper towels and continue frying until they're all golden brown and delicious.

Ready to Eat!

Try not to eat them all at once.

Riso Vignola has a rather informative web site in English.

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