I’ve been making arancini for a few years now, and I usually make smaller balls that can be eaten in two or three bites. But recently we were in Boston at Umberto’s on Hanover Street and I was inspired to supersize my fried rice balls. Umberto’s only serves a few items that usually sell out by 3 o’clock: thick slices of Sicilian pizza baked on enormous baking sheets, panzarotti (small calzones stuffed with potato, spinach, and cheese), and arancini the size of softballs.
I researched stuffed arancini recipes and came across this video from the Martha Stewart Show. Her guest is a tiny Italian grandmother from Massachusetts who published her own cookbook and reminds me so much of my Noni. I was sold.
Arancini Stuffed with Prosciutto and Mozzarella
Makes about 20
4 cups Arborio rice
1 tblsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 1/2 cups Italian-style breadcrumbs
2/3 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 lb thin slices of prosciutto, halved and folded into quarters
Canola oil, for frying
1. Place rice and 6 cups of water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a medium-low and cook, covered, stirring often, until water is completely absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside until completely cooled.
2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.
3. Stir 3 eggs, one at a time, into cooled rice. Add Parmesan, parsley, and cooked garlic; stir to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper.
4. Fill a large bowl with water. Dip your hands into the water and then form rice mixture into a 2 1/2-inch ball. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat process until all of the rice has been used. Using 2 fingers, make an indentation in each ball. Fill each ball with 1 piece of mozzarella cheese and 1 piece of prosciutto. Press together to enclose firmly. (this can be done one day in advance. cover baking sheets with plastic wrap and refrigerate)
5. Beat remaining 2 eggs in a medium bowl. Place breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Dip each rice ball first in egg mixture, and then in breadcrumbs to coat. Gently remold rice balls if they loose their round shape. Return to parchment-lined baking sheet and set aside.
6. Heat 5 inches of oil in a large Dutch-oven until it reaches 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Using a slotted spoon, gently lower one rice ball at a time into hot oil, working in batches of about 5. Cook rice balls, turning, until brown and crispy on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately with warm marinara sauce. (If you are waiting for guests, transfer the arancini to a baking sheet in the oven at 250° until ready to serve)