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Arancini (Italian Stuffed Rice Balls) Serves 6

Stuffed rice balls aren't just an Asian delicacy. These cheesy Italian saffron rice balls are filled with pork or veal and then breaded and fried until golden brown.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 pound ground veal and/or pork
1 cup dry Marsala wine
1/2 cup shelled fresh English peas
1 cup meat stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 cups Baldo or Arborio rice
6 eggs, divided use
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 pinch saffron threads, soaked in
2 tablespoons warm water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fine dried bread crumbs

In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, celery and carrot and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes.
Add the meat, breaking it up, and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom. Increase the heat to high and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.
Add the peas, stock, tomato paste and parsley, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until tender to the bite but slightly firm in the center, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the variety. Drain and spread the rice on a baking sheet to cool.
Preheat an oven to 200 degrees F.
In a small bowl, beat 3 of the eggs. Place the cooled rice in another bowl and add the beaten eggs, the cheese and the saffron mixture. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Place a large spoonful of the rice mixture in your palm, pack it lightly and make an indentation in the center. Place a tablespoonful of the meat mixture in the indentation. Cover the meat with another large spoonful of rice, sealing the meat in the center. Pack firmly into balls about 2 inches in diameter. Set aside.
In a small, deep bowl, beat the remaining 3 eggs. Put the flour and bread crumbs into separate small, deep bowls. Coat each rice ball with flour, then with egg and then crumbs. Set aside.
In a large fry pan over medium heat, pour in oil to a depth of 1 inch and heat until the oil shimmers. Working in batches, fry the rice balls, turning frequently, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Keep the rice balls warm in the oven while frying the remaining balls. Serve immediately.

Nutrition ~ 763 calories, 19 grams fat, 109 grams carbohydrates, 27 grams protein per serving.

Previously posted ~ Wild Mushroom Arancini with a Roast Cherry Tomato Ragu ~


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