I love deep fried food. Love it. Love the North Carolina State Fair, where you can get deep fried oreos (and twinkies and snickers) on a stick. Love fried chicken. Beignets. Pickles. Whatever. Bring it on.
I am terrified of deep frying.
Let me explain. When I was about 5 years old, my dad set our house on fire (I refer to it as “the straw that broke the camel’s back in my parent’s marriage”). He was irritated that my mom didn’t have dinner waiting when we got home and slammed around the kitchen, putting oil on for french fries. He left the oil on too long and set fire to the kitchen and almost caught the roof of the house on fire as well. My mom got to redecorate the kitchen, as it was basically gutted, and I got a nasty case of pyrophobia, and whatever fear of deep frying is.
I’ve gotten over the fear of fire, although I wouldn’t use matches until I was about 14 or 15. But I still don’t like to deep fry. Even though I DESPISE kitchen uni-taskers, I’ve often contemplated a deep fryer, simply to calm my anxiety.
I took the leap today.
I happened to have a lot of leftover risotto on hand. After scanning several recipes, I decided to make arancini, mostly because it appeared I could pan fry them (not as scary). After looking at the sides on my trusty cast iron skillet, I decided to put on my big girl panties and (wo)man up. But we’ll get to that.
2-3 cups leftover cooked risotto, preferably room temperature
1 1/2 cups panko
1/2-3/4 cup flour
cheese (traditionally mozzarella, I used some Keswick Creamery whole milk ricotta I already had in the fridge)
1. Set up your dipping stations. In three bowls dish out the flour, then eggs (beat both in the bowl), then panko.
2. Take a heaping table spoon of risotto, flatten it and shape into bowl. Add cheese to the bowl, and seal risotto over into a ball shape. (Alternatively, make a ball, poke a hole in it for the cheese, insert and cover back over.)
4. Roll in flour, then egg, then panko.
I will stop here to talk about my frying method. Not having a dutch oven (I know, the shame!), I used a 2-quart saucepan with enough oil to come a little more than halfway up the arancini- about 2 inches. As such, I had to turn them, but it depends on the size of the arancini and whether or not you have a fear of full on deep frying. Baby steps people.
5. Heat the veg oil in a skillet/saucepan/dutch oven. I defer to Food Junta’s post for temperatures. I didn’t use a thermometer, and basically played it by ear. At any rate, once the oil is hot, place the arancini in and fry until golden brown, flipping if necessary
6. Drain on a plate with a paper towel or cooling rack and eat immediately.
I had mine with some spicy tomato sauce (took some jarred tomato sauce from Quaker Valley Orchards and boiled it down until it thickened with red pepper flakes). They are rather rich, and the recipe above makes about a dozen apricot sized balls. I’m going to try freezing some of the already cooked ones and see how they turn out.