Most risotto recipes call for white wine or vermouth, but I was at my Sluttishly lazy best when I made this, and couldn't be bothered going to get some. So I used gin. And oh my days, will I be using gin in every risotto I make from this day forth, 'til death do us part, forever and ever amen, may the Force be with you? Yes I will, because this was the greatest risotto I've ever made. I could have scarfed it down in one sitting (excessive, I know), but I really wanted to try making mozzarella-stuffed arancini (Italian for 'little oranges', but actually breadcrumb-covered risotto balls). Since deep-frying is not an option for clumsy ol' me, baking them was my only hope (along with Obi-Wan Kenobi, of course). They emerged from the oven crispy on the outside and meltingly soft and cheesy on the inside.
This is really two recipes, so feel free to make just the risotto, or eat half of it and make six arancini the following day. I used all save a scant bowlful of risotto making twelve of these delicious little oranges. I wish I'd made double portions. You've been warned.
Gin, Lemon & Rosemary Baked Arancini (makes 12)
You will need:
For the risotto
- A good glug of olive oil
- 25g unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 heaped tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped (remove stalks before chopping)
- 300g arborio risotto rice
- 250ml gin
- 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
- Juice of a large lemon
- A generous grating of parmesan
- Salt and pepper to taste
To assemble the arancini
- 125g mozzarella (1 ball)
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped (remove stalks before chopping, as before)
- 120g plain flour
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 130g panko breadcrumbs
- Olive oil spray
- Heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Throw in the onions, garlic and rosemary, and soften for a minute or two.
- Add the rice and stir for a minute. Then pour in 200ml of the gin and stir until the liquid has been absorbed.
- Pour in the stock one ladleful at a time, waiting until it's been absorbed before adding the next. Stir almost continuously until all the stock has been used up.
- Add the lemon juice and remaining 50ml of gin, and stir until the risotto is creamy and thick.
- Stir in the parmesan, and season to taste. Set aside to cool, and then chill in the fridge for about an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Line a baking tray with parchment.
- Rip the mozzarella into 12 evenly-sized chunks. Toss the pieces in the remaining rosemary.
- Take a heaped tablespoon of cold risotto and flatten a little in the palm of your hand using the back of the spoon. Add a bit of mozzarella to the centre, add another tablespoon on top, and then shape into a ball.
- Dip the ball into the flour, then the egg, and finally into the breadcrumbs, ensuring it's thoroughly coated. Place on the baking tray.
- Repeat until all the mozzarella has been used up - there may be a small bowlful of risotto left over, which you now have my permission to scoff.
- Spritz the arancini with olive oil, and bake in the centre of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs have turned golden brown, and the mozzarella has gone gooey.
- Serve hot out of the oven for maximum pleasure.