I was so happy when I had leftover wild rice that I’d made with mushrooms and pasilla chile. I’d wanted to make arancini for some time, and this seemed like the perfect time.
Ideally you’d want to use leftover risotto, as it’s much easier to mold than this rice dish that I had made. It was basically the Lundberg Farms wild rice blend, cooked in mushroom stock and then added to sautéed onions and pasilla chile. It was a delicious side dish to one of the many Chickens Under a Brick that we’ve cooked since we found Lydia at the farmers market with her wonderful product.
The rice ball recipe I found didn’t call for a cheesy filling, but now that I found I can eat cheese made from sheep or goat milk, I’ve been adding cheese to whatever I can. Plus, we had this little round of goat brie in the fridge that was just crying out to be cut up into squares and stuffed in the middle of these rice balls. I think I would use something with a stronger flavor next time, instead of the brie.
These turned out to be about three inches in diameter, which was larger than I thought they’d be, but I think it came down to my rice choice and the chunks of cheese inside. So don’t be surprised when you get gigantic balls for your buck. I’ve added some quantities below, but the great thing is, because you’re using leftovers, you can just use as much as you’ve got, and omit the cheese entirely if you don’t have it. You can omit the cheese and the egg for vegan balls, using some soy milk instead of the egg for the breading.
3 cups mushroom risotto or cooked rice
1 wheel of goat brie, rind removed (or the cheese of your choice)
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or any kind you have on hand, whole wheat would work fine too)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (I usually use the whole wheat kind)
Oil for frying
First get the oven on, set to 325 degrees F, and set up a baking tray with some parchment paper on it so you can get a little assembly line going.
Get a spoonful or two of the rice mixture in your hand, and roll into a ball. Take a cube of cheese and push into the ball, reforming so that the cheese is completely covered. Set aside; repeat the process until you’re out of rice or cheese.
Now set up your assembly line to do the breading. Warning: Your fingers will be absolutely covered in breading by the time you’re done, which is why you don’t do this before you have all the balls ready. Set bowls of the flour, egg and panko out, in that order. Roll each rice ball carefully in the flour, move to the egg and roll, then finally to the panko for a final coat. Set back on your baking sheet, and repeat with others. Now you’ll see what I mean about your hands, so wash them off and get the oil ready for frying.
You don’t need too much oil in the pan, probably 1.5 to 2 inches up the side of the pan. Get the oil nice and hot—I don’t have a thermometer, so I just make sure that if I get a tiny bit of water and throw it at the pan and it snaps, crackles and pops we’re good to go. Yep, Heston Blumenthal, move over. This here’s scientific cooking.
Carefully get your balls in the oil. Man, it’s hard to write this blog post without sounding naughty! Try to roll them around as little as possible, but get them browned all over before removing from the pan and getting them back on the parchment paper-covered baking sheet.
Once they’re all fried, put them in the oven for about 10 minutes to make sure the cheese inside is nice and melted and the outside is doubly crispy.
Try to eat just one, I dare you.