Last night’s risotto becomes this night’s tasty side dish
We suspect arancini – Italian fried rice balls – were invented as a way to dress up someone’s leftover risotto. At least, that’s how we discovered them. And our air fryer makes them easy and a bit less caloric – and still pretty delicious. (Or fry the traditional way and they’ll be just as great.)
Once we started doing our homework on arancini, though, we realized maybe they’re more than someone’s repurposed leftovers. They’ve been a popular street food across southern Italy for a few centuries, with recipes varying from village to village. These crispy fried balls of rice might have any number of fillings, from meat sauce with peas to prosciutto and cheese to eggplant and tomatoes. You can take them pretty much wherever you want flavorwise (there are even sweet versions), and that makes them a perfect fit for the SSS kitchen.
How to make air fryer arancini
Since we came into this as air fryer noobs and arancini noobs, we decided to keep it simple. We pulled out the leftovers from the previous night’s risotto with anchovies and capers and some mozzarella. (We didn’t use fresh mozzarella, for fear that it would be too moist.) We cut the mozzarella into rough cubes and inserted one each into a scoop of rice. Then we formed balls around the cheese until they looked like the above.
We did a standard triple dip for the coating: first flour, then a dip into the egg wash, then we rolled them in the breadcrumbs until they were thoroughly coated.
Then it’s time to fry: In our air fryer we did them for 8 minutes on 400 degrees, then flipped them and did another 8 minutes on the other side. Times can vary, depending on your machine, so adjust accordingly.
If you want to go the traditional oil-frying route, you would heat a pan with 2 inches of oil until it’s 350 degrees, then fry for 6-8 minutes or until a golden crust forms. Either way, serve them when they’re hot and enjoy some little nuggets of Italy.
We served our arancini with a garlicky aioli, which might not be traditional but seemed to complement the anchovy-garlic-caper risotto that is the base here.
Have you ever tried arancini, in Italy or elsewhere? Have a favorite flavor combination? Share your ideas in our comments section.