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.
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. Print
Air fryer aranciniPrint
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 2-ounce can of anchovies packed in oil, minced with oil reserved
2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
1/4 cup capers, drained, plus more for garnish
A pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Instant Pot version:
Set the Instant Pot to saute mode and add the olive oil and butter. When melted, add the minced garlic and saute until it is fragrant, 1 minute. Add the minced sardines and the reserved oil from the can and saute another 1 minute.
Add the rice and stir to combine. Saute the rice, stirring often, until the grains are coated with butter/oil and lightly toasted, 3 minutes.
Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze it and release the browned bits from the bottom of the pan; stir the mixture until the wine has been mostly absorbed, about 4-5 minutes.
Stir in the capers and red pepper flakes, then the broth, until the mixture is combined. Lock the lid onto the Instant Pot and set it on high pressure for 5 minutes.
While the risotto is cooking, set a medium nonstick skillet on medium-low heat until it’s warm. Add the breadcrumbs and toast them, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Remove them from the pan and set them aside.
Once the risotto’s time is up, release the pressure manually on the Instant Pot. Stir the risotto and assess it; if it’s too thick, stir in a quarter cup of water. If it’s still a bit crunchy, set the Instant Pot to saute and allow it to cook, stirring, until it’s done.
Add the Parmesan and stir it in until it melts. Taste again and add salt, if needed, and pepper to taste. Serve in heated bowls with a tablespoon or so of the toasted breadcrumbs on each serving, along with some more grated Parmesan and a spoonful of capers.
Traditional risotto method:
Instead of using the Instant Pot, follow the instructions above until it’s time to add the broth. Heat the broth in a separate pot and ladle it into the rice, roughly a quarter cup at a time, stirring constantly until the broth is absorbed before adding more. Continue until the rice is tender and creamy, about 40 minutes or so, then finish as described above.
Keywords: Air fryer arancini