Arancini Di Riso by Lauren
Ara what? Riso, who? My thoughts exactly. I don’t know. I’d never heard of it before either. That is until my friend Dita from Salotto Rosso, the pop up wine bar queen of Amsterdam, invited me to one of her Italian cooking classes. It all started over pitchers of Pimm’s. It’s like a British Sangria. Served chock full of summer fruit, ripe peaches and luscious strawberries, drenched in sweet tasting Pimms. Summer in a glass. And we needed some sunshine after the torrential down pouring known as Amsterdam summer.
So sunglasses on (ok well mostly off lets be real), glass in hand, legs dangling off the patio of a local canal we discussed the usual girl topics of life, love, and cooking. I’ve been thinking lately about cooking classes. I’m an OK cook, but I’m hardly a chef. I love food, love the creativity of it but I don’t really have any technique and I’m more of a direction taker rather than a creator of new dishes. And besides Stefan got me some cooking classes for my birthday that still need using.
But with my cooking lately, I’ve been feeling that it lacks focus. That I have been lacking focus. In what I really want to do, what direction I want my life to go, what I’m really good at, what is next on the list for me. What is my niche? Hilary’s got the macrobiotics and My friend Dita’s got the Italian thing, Jason’s got brunches, and my friends Harini and Virtti have Indian nailed, but I’m all over the place. Mediocre at everything, master of none.
Maybe if I surround myself with passionate people with ideas and motivation some of it will rub off on me. Get me excited about something again. I want so much to love what I do. Something that feeds my intellect, heart, and soul. As much as I like being a producer, I just can’t say I’m passionate about subtitling web films or shooting cars on a turntable. Sadly, I AM a master at those But they fall soul-less the majority of the time. But cooking has soul to it. You can feel it when good food is made from the heart.
So Dita invited me to an Italian cooking class she was holding at her house. A small group of great people and a little bit of Italy in Amsterdam. Amazing hospitality, but get in right in there and get your hands dirty cooking lesson. Pretty much exactly what I needed. To learn something new, to meet some new cool Amsterdam people, and come out with some new skills. A renewed sense of self. I love Italian food, but so much of it looks so daunting. So this afternoon we are making Arancini Di Riso which usually eaten as an Antipasto from Sicilian region. Essentially they are Risotto balls with various fillings inside. I’d never even thought about making that before. Wasn’t even on my radar to try to make. I’d had them before, in Italy, but never crossed my mind to try making something like that.
And they were so easy incredibly easy to make. You didn’t need to be some super star chef. And they were fun to make, really mashing and molding risotto into creating these balls, placing the filling just right in the center and closing them up again. They kind of reminded me of the Italian version of the Chinese Dumpling. And its so fun to be in that atmosphere, to make something you’ve never dreamed of making before, creating something new, and coming away with the satisfaction that not only you too can make these things but they taste pretty damn good and you can recreate them now at home and impress the hell out of guests!
Arancini di Riso from Salotto Riso
Makes about 15
100g Pecorino or Parmigiano or Grana Padano
500g Arborio Rice
3 Egg Yolks
1 Packet Saffron
salt as needed
Ingredients for filling:
150g Ground Beef or half/ half
1/2 Finely diced yellow onion
1Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
80g Peas (fresh or frozen)
40g Tomato Paste
100g Provolone (or caciocavallo or mozzzerella) finely diced
100ml Red wine
Cook rice in approximately 1.2 litres of water to the point that all of the water is absorbed. The rice should be sticky. While cooking the rice dissolve the saffron in 3 egg yolks and incorporate completely. When rice is cooked add saffron mixture to rice.
Add grated cheese and butter. Mix well. Transfer to large plate, distributing rice evenly so that it cools. (about 25 min)
Fry finely diced onion in a pot with 2T olive oil and the butter until golden. Add ground beef over med/high heat, when almost browned add wine. When wine is absorbed, add tomato paste that has been diluted with just a bit of water (the consistency should still be dense). Add salt and pepper to taste and allow to cook for a further 20 minutes over medium heat.
Cook peas in a small pot with 1Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 glass of water until firm but tender. Dice the provolone and set aside.
With the rice having cooled, take a small amount (approximately 1/2 a handful) and form a cup in the palm of your hand, creating a “crater” in which you will put the filling. In the crater, place a small amount of ragu, peas and 3 to 4 cubes of cheese. Taking another 1/2 handful of rice, close the arancino, using water to moisten the rice if needed.
Take each arancino, dip in beaten eggs then cover with breadcrumbs.
Using frying oil (a large pot of frying oil so balls are completely submerged or deep fryer) fry the arancini at 180 degrees until golden. Drain on kitchen paper.