Lazy Arancini

Sweet Baboo is a very patient soul. While he would happily eat plain white rice and fried ground beef every day, I am forever dreaming up more and more fanciful things to try. Some things have been spectacular crash-and-burn disasters (with truly horrendous stories to match), some were simply good and others were amazing. It’s because of the amazing times that I continue to reach for new ideas. I’m sorry, Sweet Baboo – you’re doomed to a life of culinary adventure.

For a while, I’ve been eyeing up the deli in my local grocery store. One item in the display has been softly calling to me over the past few weeks: arancini. The best arancini starts with a small ball of fresh mozzarella surrounded by creamy risotto which is breaded, deep fried and served in a generous helping of marinara sauce.

Ok, here’s the problem with my wanting to make arancini. The last time I tried to deep fry something, I filled the entire house with blue smoke and the smell lasted for weeks. Mental note: never again. Risotto? When I tried to make that, it was another surreal disaster. Guess I could just sit in the corner and eat a piece of cheese, but I can’t let the idea go. Hmmm.

First hurdle: How to make risotto without making risotto.

One kind of rice is good. Two kinds are better! 1/2 cup of white rice and 1 cup of chicken stock went into the rice cooker.

chicken broth and white ricecooked white rice

While the white rice simmered, I got out a 796ml can of Italian spiced diced tomatoes. Draining the juice from the can yielded 1 cup of cooking liquid for the wild rice I planned to cook.

diced tomatoes and juice

The juice, along with 1/4 cup wild rice went into a little covered dish in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 1 1/2 hours. Set the tomatoes aside to make tomato sauce with later.

Once both rices were cooked, it was time to combine them and add 3 eggs.

3 eggs 3 eggs added to wild and white

This may look a little soupy but it suits the purpose well. Who wants to make sticky rice balls, shove cheese in the middle and then flour it, coat it in egg wash and then bread it? That just sound like never-ending hand washing. Ick. No thanks. There’s a better way.

The rice is ready, so it is time for sorting out the breading and the cheese. There was marbled cheddar in the refrigerator, so it was cut into pieces roughly the same size as a pat of butter. Next, it was time to menace the bag of garlic croutons in the cupboard with a rolling pin to get the requisite bread crumbs.

soon to be bread crumbs new breadcrumbs

Done! Time for assembly!

No WAY am I scraping cheese out of baking dishes for hours, so the muffin tins and muffin papers made an appearance. In each muffin paper, 1 scant tsp of breadcrumbs was sprinkled.

scant tsp of breadcrumbs in each muffin paper

The breadcrumbs were followed by 1 scant Tbsp of rice mixture.

scant Tbsp of rice mixture

The cheese nestles into the rice.

cheese

Another scant Tbsp of rice mixture covers the cheese.

another scant Tbsp of rice on top

Lastly, sprinkle a little over half a tsp breadcrumbs to lightly cover the rice.

half tsp breadcrumb on top

Cover the muffin tin with aluminum foil so that the breadcrumbs soften as the lazy arancini cooks. Set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and slide the tins in. These little treats only take 45 minutes to cook, so it’s time to get to the sauce.

Cut 2-3 slices of bacon into lardons and fry them.

bacon cooked

Add diced onion and saute until the onion becomes partially translucent.

saute onions with cooked bacon

Remember those tomatoes waiting patiently on the sidelines? Puree them and add them to the pan.

drained diced tomatoes drained diced tomatoes pureed add pureed tomatoes to onion and bacon

Let the sauce simmer.

The rice balls are done!

fresh from the oven

I couldn’t resist biting into one to discover the steamy, cheesy centre.

cheesy pocket

It was toothsome and tasty but a little dry. Sauce to the rescue!

finished small

While it isn’t everyday fare because of the amount of prep involved, it would be a definite hit at a fancy brunch.

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