So, I'm currently writing this from a couch in Chicago. Matt and I are out here to see his family for his thirtieth birthday bash this evening, and right now it's a lovely afternoon of Nick Jr and Eggo waffles with his niece.
Every time we visit, I want to take over someone's kitchen and cook. Partially, it's a "thank-you, here-let-me-do-it" to our hosts; but it's also a selfish, must-cook-now feeling I get when I haven't made anything in a few days. And sometimes, I just want to try to show off whatever dish I'm currently obsessed with. Looking through photos of the past few weeks exploits, I came across these little guys that I made with risotto rice. This was somewhat labor intensive because it involved, you know, making risotto first and allowing it to cool. But a rif on this with leftover rice of any persuasion, or orzo, or even quinoa would, I'm willing to wager, be delicious.
I also stuffed these with little cubes of pepper jack cheese in the center, which may have been the best part. Also, as all arancini tends to be, these were heavy in bread crumbs in order for them to stick together. Fortunately, we recently found the best gluten-free breadcrumbs yet, Aleia's panko, available in a few different flavors and at our local Stop and Shop. After trying a bunch of gluten free "bread crumbs" only to discover they were basically just corn meal (and I could have saved the $6.99 or whatever astronomical price I had paid), I was thrilled to find these that have great flavor and a nearly identical texture to regular panko. Obviously, regular bread crumbs would be fine for this.
But if your man is allergic to wheat and you're making little deep fried balls of bacon, corn, cheese, and hot pepper, you better fucking figure out a way for him to have some.
What it's Made of:
- 1 cup prepared basic risotto (recipe below), at room temp or chilled
- 2 decent-sized jalapeños, ribs and seeds removed, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
- 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs, plus a bit more to coat the outsides before frying
- 4-5 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
- Salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, coriander, to taste (palmful or so each?)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, cut into small cubes (enough for each rice ball)
- Vegetable oil, for frying
How it's Made:
- Combine the rice, jalapeños, corn, bread crumbs and bacon in a large bowl. Add seasonings and tweak until you're content
- Pour in the beaten egg and mix with your hands until well incorporated. Add some additional bread crumbs by the handful if the mixture is too loose
- Place the mixture in the fridge or freezer for a hit-- 10 or so minutes-- to allow it to firm up a bit
- While the mixture cools, heat up an inch or so of vegetable oil in a large dutch oven over high heat
- Line a paper plate with more panko to roll the balls in, and set up a sheet of parchment paper to place them on after that
- Form mixture into 2" or so balls, pressing into the center with your thumb
- Place in a cube of cheese and recover with rice mixture
- Roll each ball in panko, then place on parchment paper
- When the oil is hot, lower balls into the pot with a slotted spoon one at a time, careful not to overcrowd
- Fry for 8 or so minutes, flipping occasionally, until outside is a golden brown
- Drain on paper towels.
- Allow to cool, these suckers are HOT
- Enjoy! I served with some Greek yogurt/cilantro/lime juice dipping sauce, which was perfect.
Best Basic Risotto
What it's Made of:
- 3-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 3 T EVOO
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup white onion, diced small
- 1/4 cup celery, diced small
- 1/2 cup arborio rice
- 1/3 cup or so dry white wine
- In a medium saucepan, heat the broth over medium-low heat to simmer, keep simmering on a burner and place a ladle nearby
- In a large heavy bottomed skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat
- Add onion and celery and stir. Season a bit with salt and cook for 3 minutes
- Add garlic, stir, cook an additional 2 minutes
- Add rice to the pan and toast, stirring constantly, for another 2 minutes
- Pour in the wine and stir
- Add another palmful of salt and generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
- Once the wine is fully absorbed by the rice, start to add the broth, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly
- After the broth is absorbed, add another ladle full, and stir
- Repeat the process until the rice has about doubled in size and is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes
Or just chill it so you can make some deep fried snacks. Totally up to you.
What's your favorite thing to cook when you want to "show off"?