Arancini Undici (Fried Rice Balls with Peas and Mozzarella

posted by Mimi Hiller 08-06-98 7:32 AM

Arancini Undici (Fried Saffron Rice Balls Filled with Peas and Mozzarella)

2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon of crumbled to a powder, saffron threads
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons canned tomato sauce
3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup cooked fresh, or thawed frozen peas
1/4 pound mozzarella, finely diced
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
Oil for frying

In a large saucepan bring the water with the salt, pepper, and the saffron to a boil, add the rice, and simmer mixture, covered, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rice is just cooked through. Stir in the tomato sauce and the Pecorino and chill mixture, covered, until it is cold. This mixture may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled.

Put 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture in the palm of your hand, flatten it, and arrange a few peas and a few pieces of mozzarella in the center. Close your hand around the rice mixture and form a ball, making sure the peas and cheese are hidden completely. Weigh out about 1/2 oz. for each ball. Make more rice balls in the same manner with the remaining rice mixture, peas and mozzarella. You may keep the balls covered and chilled until the final breading and frying.

When ready to fry, heat sufficient oil for deep frying in a kettle or electric fryer, to 375 F. Roll the rice balls in the bread crumbs, coating them well. Fry the rice balls in batches for 2 minutes, or until they are golden brown, transferring them as they are fried with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Serve the arancini immediately.

Makes about 25 arancini.

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