I've made risotto numerous times before, but last night's batch w/ crimini mushrooms was a major dud...not as flavorful or creamy as it should be. I blame it on inferior ingredients. I used Trader Joe's arborio rice and it lacked any character; rice tasted kind of mealy and insipid w/ none of the nuttiness and engorged flavor I'm accustomed to. The blah mushrooms and canned broth probably didn't help either. Maybe something was off in my technique but I can't think of what. So we ate a few bites and called it dinner. I hurriedly shoved it in the fridge thinking I'd try to salvage it by making arancini the next day.
Well, last night's dud turned into today's delight!! I can't believe I've never made arancini at home before. They are so easy to form and frying them was very simple and not messy at all. I stuck a cube of gruyere cheese inside each one for a gooey surprise and lightly dredged them in some storebought fine bread crumbs. They only took a few min. to get golden brown and crispy in the oil, and I put them on a rack to cool a bit before eating. It was really hard to resist popping one into my mouth right out of the oil since they looked and smelled amazing!
I served them on a bed of salad greens lightly dressed w/ a balsamic vinaigrette. I needed to use up the greens but was trying to emulate a salad I make w/ pan-fried goat cheese rounds. Shaved on a few wisps of parmigiano reggiano to finish.
Overall, it was really, really good. The arancini were wonderfully crispy and crunchy on the outside and so divinely creamy on the inside w/ the final lure being the gooey cheese center. My husband was going nuts over them and asked if there were more even before he polished off the two remaining on his plate! Greedy man. The salad was a refreshing, acidic foil for those rich nuggets.
I'm so glad that there's more risotto to use up for another round of arancini! I may whip up a simple marinara sauce to serve as an appetizer. Other great versions of arancini out there?
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