Just in case risotto wasn't good enough on it's own, smart Italians decided to take leftover risotto and make it into arancini. Basically, little balls of battered risotto with a little surprise in the middle. There are many different variations, and many traditions. But this is what we ended up with.
Now, it is very hard for me to even have any leftover risotto(I can't help it!), but if I use 8 cups of rice and make it en masse, I can manage to save some. Sadly, only some. Now you have to understand that arancini must be one of my favourite things in the entire world. Jeff still describes the day we made arancini, as the "day I was in heaven." Yes, they are THAT good. Labour-intensive yes, but oh, oh so good. I don't know whether I like the crunch on the outside or the cheese inside the most. But I love all of it. Even the time it takes to make, SO worth it!
First things first. You should probably reserve two days to make this - one day to make risotto for dinner. Then use the leftovers to make the arancini. Once you learn the general techniques, it is really easy, and scrumptious!
This is: 4x Milanese Saffron Risotto mostly based upon Biba Caggiano's "Favorite Recipes from the Splendid Cities". Biba's directions are perfectly said, and eloquent:
"4L beef broth
2 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, minced (about 2 cups)
2 cups Vialone Nano, Arborio, or Carnaroli Rice
2 cups dry white wine (I prefer Zenato's Lugana)
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt to taste
Heat the broth in a stock-pot and keep it warm over low heat. Transfer 1-2 cups of broth to a glass measuring cup, stir in the saffron, and save it for later.
Melt 1.5 sticks of butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. (I adore my All-Clad deep-sided saute pan for this!) When the butter begins to foam, add the onion and cook, stirring, until pale yellow and soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until it is well coated with the butter and onion, and begins to whiten, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine. When the wine is almost completely evaporated, add 2 cups of the hot broth. Cook and stir until most of the broth has been absorbed. Continue cooking and stirring the rice in this manner, add 1 cup or so of broth at a time, for about 15 minutes.
Add the 1 cup of saffron broth and continue cooking and stirring until most of the broth has been absorbed and the rice is tender, but still a bit firm to the bite, 3 to 4 minutes.
Swirl in the remaining tablespoon of butter and the Parmigiano. Stir quickly until the cheese and butter are melted and the rice has a creamy, moist consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning." It should definitely be a bit on the undercooked side of "al dente", since the rice is going to go through more cooking. I cooled it a bit, then kept it in giant zip-bags in the fridge until the next day. You could freeze it.
It is probably a really good idea to conscript a friend. Or your unsuspecting husband. You can converse about all things while virtually glued to sticky blobs of rice. All in all, a nice bonding experience!
This next part is loosely based around info I found here.
The next day, heat 2 liters (2 quarts) oil to 180°C in a pan and prepare 6 bowls:
Bowl 1: Cold risotto
Bowl 2: Diced mozzarella (not bocconcini because they will melt into nothingness) It is nice to taste the cheese later.
Bowl 3: Diced cheese
Bowl 4: Flour
Bowl 5: Beaten eggs
Bowl 6: Breadcrumbs (regular breadcrumbs, the only time I use store-bought, but not Italian-style)
To make an arancino, take approximately 1.5-2 tablespoons of risotto in one hand, make a hole with a finger and stuff it 1-2 cheese cubes. I aimed for "golfball" sized pieces. Tip: It is easiest to get the risotto out of the bowl in a semi-uniform size using an ice cream scoop that releases. You don't need to fill the scoop, but it is easier than trying to grab at the risotto or using two spoons. Close the hole with the risotto until no cheese is visible. Pass it to your helper's bowl, who completes the next three steps. (One person's hands get too sticky and require too much washing) Plus this is faster! Thoroughly coat the arancino in the flour, shake it to remove excess flour, then quickly dip into the beaten eggs and check it is thoroughly covered on all its surface. Then roll in breadcrumbs to make a nice crust and deep fry until brown. Keep a careful watch on the temperature on your oil. Finalmente, when the arancini cool just enough, enjoy!! These freeze okay too, which is nice after all of your hard work:
Jeff gets all the difficult jobs: