You all may remember back when I made pizzelles earlier this summer that I had found the recipe in a book, Always on Sunday, written about Italian family traditions. As it turns out, the author’s daughter came across her mom’s recipe here on Brown Eyed Baker, shared it with her mom, who then emailed me to see if she could send me a copy of her book and the new accompanying cookbook that she just had printed. I was so excited to hear from her and imagine my surprise when we realized that we lived ten minutes from each other! Instead of shipping the books we decided to meet at a local Starbucks to chit chat. Marcia is such a lovely woman who is passionate about cooking and wanting to share her heritage with others. She was so kind in giving me signed copies of her books and we enjoyed a great visit about cooking, baking, and Italian families.
These rice balls are from her new cookbook (not yet for sale), which I served with leftover sauce from the Eggplant Lasagna Tart. While Arancini are traditionally deep fried, I decided to go a healthier route and bake these at a high temperature instead of frying them. If you prefer frying, just fill a deep skillet with about 2 inches of oil, heat to 350 degrees, and fry in batches until golden brown. I thought these rice balls turned out fabulous, and the bit of cheese inside melts for a fabulous surprise when you bite into them. And because no Italian meal that includes sauce is complete without a great piece of fresh Italian bread to sop up the leftovers, I’ll give another local plug – Mazziotti’s Bread (from Arnold, PA) is back making bread again, so if you’re in the Pittsburgh area check to see if your local grocery store is stocking it! I’ve been sopping up a lot of sauce, eating bread and butter, and bologna sandwiches with it. Mmmm…
Arancini (Italian Rice Balls)
Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 20 to 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
2 cups cooked rice
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut in ½-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
¾ cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Beat eggs lightly with fork. Add the rice and stir gently but thoroughly.
3. Take 1 tablespoon of the mixture, place a cube of mozzarella in the middle and then top with another tablespoon of rice. Shape into a ball and roll in the breadcrumbs. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the rice mixture.
4. Refrigerate pan of rice balls for at least 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°F. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over rice balls.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with warm marinara sauce.
(Adapted from Always on Sunday, Recipes From an Italian Childhood by Marcia Russotto)