A Sicilian street food staple, these crispy fried rice balls oozing with mozzarella are one of my favorite things in the world. You’ll find them all over the city and the variations are endless. I like a simple mozzarella-filled ball, but you can use mushroom risotto or add some meat sauce to the center for a heartier arancini.
Special equipment: Candy thermometer
Technique tip: Keep the risotto chilled for easier handling.
Yield: 3/4 cup of risotto will yield 6 arancini. Feel free to use as little or as much risotto to make the desired quantity.
Swap option: Use seasoned breadcrumbs instead of panko.
Using a 1-ounce (2-tablespoon) cookie scoop, portion the chilled risotto into small balls.2.
Use your thumb to create a well in the center of the scooped risotto.3.
Place a mozzarella piece in the center of each well and carefully shape the risotto around the mozzarella.4.
Set up a dredging station by placing the flour, egg and panko in their own shallow bowl.5.
Working one ball at a time, dip the risotto-wrapped mozzarella ball into the flour and roll to coat. Shake off any excess flour and gently roll the ball to refine the shape.6.
Dip the flour-coated ball into the egg and roll to coat; shake off any excess egg.7.
Drop the ball into the panko and roll to coat. Place the breaded ball onto a quarter sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining risotto balls.8.
Place the breaded arancini into the refrigerator, uncovered, to keep chilled while the oil comes to temperature.9.
Meanwhile, fill a 4-quart Dutch oven with 3 inches of vegetable oil and heat to 325 F.10.
Carefully drop four of the arancini into the hot oil and cook, maintaining a temperature of 300 F to 315 F; fry until deep golden brown for 5 minutes. Do not overcrowd the Dutch oven or the arancini will not cook evenly.11.
Using a spider, transfer the arancini to a paper towel-lined plate and crush some flaky sea salt over each ball.12.
Bring the oil back to 325 F and continue to fry the remaining rice balls.13.
Serve atop a puddle of warmed marinara, if desired, and enjoy immediately.
If cooking the arancini well in advance of serving, reheat in a 400 F oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mozzarella is completely melted in the center of the arancini.