Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sausage & Gorgonzola Arancini

Arancini, (literally, means "little oranges," in Italian, for their shape) harkens back to the old street markets of Sicily, as the "fritto guy" would dole out newspaper cones filled with addictive, little, fried treats.

Italians have so many ways of using leftovers. Day-old risotto is a leftover’s dearest companion, as it is the best way to make arancini.  Traditionally, arancini are made with leftover risotto, and are meant to have a center-filling of either ground beef and peas, or simply a mozzarella center. But, I wanted the sausage to really shine by mixing sweet Italian sausage crumbles throughout the entire gorgonzola risotto mixture. The creaminess of the gorgonzola cheese is a nice counterpoint to the hearty sausage laced throughout.

The addition of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, breadcrumbs, and one beaten egg, will firm the mixture enough to shape into little, tennis ball-sized rice balls, and ready to fry in canola or pomace oil. The panko breadcrumbs and crushed, smoked almond coating results in an intensely flavorful and earthy crunch.

 I once made a five-course meal for friends, and these arancini were the star of the show! If you can make a simple, gorgonzola risotto, and add sausage, then you can replicate these little guys at home, like I did!

Ingredients for the Risotto:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup of  Pino Grigio
  • ¾  cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 4  beaten eggs (2 for risotto + 2 for breading)
  • 1 ½  cups of browned Italian sausage
  • 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 cups of canola oil for frying
How to Make the Risotto:
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add chopped onion and cook until soft.
  3. Add the 2 cups of rice all at once, add the wine, stir and simmer for a few minutes.
  4. Add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring the rice until the broth has been absorbed between each addition.
  5. In large sauté pan on medium heat, brown the sausage and transfer to a paper towel- lined plate.
  6. Once the risotto is cooked and creamy, remove from heat, add the gorgonzola cheese and stir to incorporate.
  7. Transfer the risotto to a large bowl, add the sausage to rice, add the beaten eggs, and mix well.
  8. Allow mixture to cool.
  9. Refrigerate until ready to use. Cold risotto will be easier to handle when shaping the arancini     

     To shape the Arancini, you'll need: 

    2 egg, beaten 
    2 cups panko breadcrumbs ( or more) 
    1 cup of smoked almonds (crushed)
    cooking oil (vegetable or canola)
Method for shaping Arancini:
  1. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the breadcrumb/almond mixture to a large plate.
  3. Line a large tray with paper towels.
  4. Remove risotto from the fridge. Place 1/2 cup of rice in the palm of your hand and shape into a cup.
  5. Roll the arancino in the beaten eggs and then in roll in the breadcrumbs.
  6. Set on the tray.
  7. Continue to make the arancini using this method until all the risotto has been used.
  8. Heat the oil on medium high in a large fry pan
  9. Carefully drop the arancini in the oil and turn to fry all sides.
  10. Return to a paper towel-lined tray to absorb any oil.       
  11. There should be 16-18 arancini

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