Get ready for this: Spaghetti with meatballs isn’t really an Italian dish. Neither is baked ziti and pasta primavera. But that’s OK—plenty of Italian food isn’t entirely Italian, either. Take Sicilian cuisine, for example. The triangle at Italy’s southernmost tip has been ransacked so many times that its food could be considered about as Spanish, Middle Eastern, and Greek as it is Italian. With that melting pot mentality in mind, it’s almost fitting that chef Brandon Boudet decided to honor this weekend’s San Gennaro festival—a celebration of Italian culture—with Sicily’s most beloved street food: arancini. His featured menu this week at both Little Dom’s and Dominick’s gives the deep-fried risotto balls the full L.A. treatment, offering them in versions that are vegetarian, gluten-free, and stuffed with everything from Nutella to mascarpone. Here he shares a stripped-down recipe that allows the classic mixture of pearly rice and sautéed mushrooms to truly shine—from within its crispy, Parmesan-topped shell, anyway.
Arancini (Rice Balls)
by Chef Brandon Boudet
16 ounces risotto
3 each shallots, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable or beef broth
1/4 cup cream
2 tablespoons basil, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
4 cups porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups parmesan cheese
1 cup provolone, grated
1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced
2 cups flour
Egg wash (6 eggs and 2 cups of milk mixed well)
2 cups breadcrumbs
6 cups canola oil
Sauté shallots in olive oil high heat in an 8 quart non reactive pot
Add the risotto and sauté 1 -2 minutes until the oil is absorbed and risotto is pearly white.
Add the white wine and reduce until absorbed.
Add the broth, one cup at a time and reduce down to almost dry, repeating until all the broth has been used.
Add the cream and fresh herbs, stirring well for 5 minutes.
In a separate pan, heat 1 tablespoon butter and sauté the mushrooms until soft. Wait for them to cool, and then chop. Add to risotto.
Finish the risotto with butter, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.
Spread the risotto onto a sheet pan and cool.
Once cooled, mix in the provolone and mozzarella, forming into 2 1/2 ounce balls.
In three separate dishes, place the flour, egg wash and bread crumbs. Roll each ball in the flour, then egg wash and then the breadcrumbs.
Heat six cups of canola oil in a Dutch oven to 360 degrees
Carefully place balls into hot oil for 4 minutes then turn rice balls over and cook other side for 4 minutes more (do not cook more then 4-5 at a time.
Keep rice balls warm in a low oven until all are finished then serve warm topped with parmesan cheese.