This Saturday Greg and I threw a holiday party to celebrate the season with great friends and lots of food. I planned a menu of bite-sized hors d’ouervres, to facilitate grazing and minimize clean-up. We asked our guests to bring champagne…the perfect pairing for fried apps, fresh cheeses and decadent desserts.
Judging by the number of empty bottles (25 champagne + 10 wine, 1 case Heineken Light, 30 pack Tecate and 1 bottle of Columbian Aguadiente), a great time was had by all. We sampled several lovely bottles of champagne, including a great rosé by Piper-Heidsieck and an organic De Meric that was 100% Meunier.
I’ve been dying to make Arancini since I learned about them in Urban Italian. Arancini are a Sicilian dish, said to have originated in the 10th century. They are balls of risotto, coated in breadcrumbs, and fried (or baked). Is your mouth watering yet? Their name, which means “little oranges”, describes their golden color and round shape. They are a perfect party food.
I pan-fried the balls just before the guests arrived, and kept them warm in a low oven until I was ready to put them out. I served a homemade San Marzano tomato sauce alongside. Of all the recipes I’ve posted on Pezzo, this is the clear winner. Noah, thanks for taking this incredible photo!
Keep a look-out for more recipes from the party, including stuffed mushrooms, pickled vegetables, and home-made whoopie pies. To all who were there, thanks for coming and Happy Holidays!!
Arancini with Fontina and Fresh Chives
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tblsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup plus 2 tblsp arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
6 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tblsp butter
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
1/2 cup packed, coarsely grated Fontina cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsely
3 tblsp chopped fresh chives
1 large egg yolk
2 large eggs
Canola oil for frying
1. Bring the broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and cover to keep warm. Heat olive oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice; stir one minute. Add wine; stir until absorbed, about 30 seconds. Add broth 1/2 cup at a time, and simmer until rice is just tender and risotto is creamy, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more. Stir constantly. This will take about 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in 6 tblsp Parmesan and 2 tblsp butter. Season generously with salt and pepper. Spread risotto in a large pan and cool completely.
2. Mix 1/2 cup panko, Fontina cheese, parsely, chopped chives, and 1 egg yolk into the risotto. Shape into 2 inch balls. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet. (The balls can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate)
3. Preheat the oven to 250°. Set another rimmed baking sheet in the oven. Beat eggs in a shallow bowl to blend. Place 1 cup panko in another shallow bowl. Dip risotto balls in the beaten egg, then into the panko to coat. Pour an inch and a half of canola oil in the bottom of a large skillet. Heat oil over medium-high heat. It will be hot enough when a coarse salt crystal sizzles in the oil. Working in batches, pan-fry the risotto balls until crisp and brown, rolling them for an even surface. Transfer to the baking sheet in the oven. Serve warm with tomato sauce.