1 1/2 C arborio rice • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1 C onion, minced • 3 T garlic, minced • 1 C white wine
4 C chicken stock, heated • 2 C spinach, frozen & chopped
1 1/2 C parmigiano-reggiano cheese • 2 T salted butter
1 C flour • 3 eggs, beaten • 2 C panko bread crumbs
1 tsp paprika or cayenne pepper • salt and pepper to taste
canola oil, for frying
For New Year’s my husband, our kids and I enjoyed a nice, semi-quiet evening with some yummy food. To start it all off I made these addicting fried Arborio rice balls. I came across a version of this appetizer in a Costco recipe book years ago and have been dying to make them since. I cannot believe it took me so long to get around to it but boy where they worth the wait. Packed with Italian flavors, rich in creamy cheese and a perfect crunch, you can’t eat just one. Then again, you can’t eat very many either, they are quite filling. The panko bread crumbs complete the appetizer making it just right for dipping, so don’t forget to make a hearty marinara or a roasted red pepper aioli to go alongside.
Prep this 8-24 hrs ahead of time and refrigerate: Begin by sauteing the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and wine and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced. Then add in the chicken stock a little at a time, allowing the mixture to thicken each time before adding more. Once you have used up all the chicken stock go ahead and add in the cheese, spinach and butter. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate.
When ready to serve: Roll the rice mixture into 1-inch balls. Dip balls into flour mixed with either the paprika or cayenne pepper, then egg and finally panko bread crumbs. In a large pan heat 1/4 an inch canola oil to 350 degrees F. Fry the balls until golden brown. Place on paper towel to drain oil. Serve hot with your choice of marinara sauce or ailoi dip. Enjoy!
notes: I won’t lie, these puppies are a bit time-consuming but oh so worth it. The nice thing about prepping them is that you can do a little at a time. Make sure that you make them about a day ahead that way all you have to do is bread and fry when your ready to serve them.
… Wishing you a very Happy 2012!