I must have seen somebody post something about arancini, so I had a craving to try them, and then eventually I had some leftover rice.... I used this recipe from Lidia Bastianich : http://www.lidiasitaly.com/recipes/detail/820
Other recipes said you could use any leftover rice, but I don't think that's true, at least not for a first-time arancini maker. They did not want to hold their form and I had to add a lot of flour to get them to hold their shape, and while they were OK the first night, they were fairly dry when re-heated.
So I did some more research and figured out a trick. They were AWESOME (choir of angels in background) I might still further tweak the recipe, but even if I don't this was delicious. Like creamy, cheesy balls of risotto in a crispy crust. Even re-heated (in the microwave, without a lid) they were still somewhat crispy on the outside and delightlfully creamy inside. What's the secret? Just take about 1/3 of your dry un-cooked rice and whizz it in a food processor or maybe a blender until most of the grains are broken and some of them that are almost crushed. Then add them back in to the rest of the rice and cook.
1.5 cups rice (1/2 cup of it "blended")
4.5 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
about 1.5 cups thick beef or kale ragu (chilled) or 8 ozs mozzarella cheese
about 1.5 cups seasoned bread crumbs
2 or 3 cups oil for semi-deep-frying
Add rice to chicken stock, bring to boil, cover, simmer, stirring occasionally until rice is cooked, thick and creamy like risotto. Cool rice.
In large bowl, beat eggs, cheese and rice until well blended. Reserve 1/4 of rice mixture and divide remaining mixture into 12 parts. Wet hands with water and take each (1/12) lump of rice and form into a ball by rolling in your hands and hollow it out by poking your finger into it and twiddling it. Set aside.
When you have 12 little bowl-shaped lumps of rice, then you add approx 1 scant tsp of ragu into each bowl. Divide the remaining 1/4 of the rice into 12 portions and form each portion into a disk (wet hands). Top each "bowl" of ragu with a rice disk, pinch the edges to seal and roll into a sphere with your hands. Refrigerate, uncovered for at least an hour to firm up.
Whisk the two remaining eggs and roll each arancini in egg and then roll in breadcrubs. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a deep medium sized pot while coating the arancini with breadcrumbs. Test the oil with a bread cube or a lump of egg & breadcrumbs. Oil should bubble a little but not boil up and should not immediately brown or blacken the test subject. Using a metal spider or cupped, slotted spatula, add 3 or 4 arancini to your pot of oil. Cook them for about a two minutes on a side until deep golden (almost orange) brown, and flip them and cook on the other side. When evenly browned, remove them from oil (let them drip for a second, over the pot) and keep them warm on a baking sheet in a 225 oven. Cook in batches as above. Will stay nice for at least an hour in the oven while you get everything else ready. Serve with any kind of gravy.
Tweaks: These made fairly large (almost the size of a small orange) arancini. The rice mixture was too soft to make them any smaller. Next time I will try using only one egg in the mixture and will form them while the rice is still slightly warmish. I think that once the rice "sets" you need to add the extra egg to make it malleable enough to shape, but if I shape them before the rice sets I will only need to use one egg and it will hold it's shape better allowing me to make 16 smaller arancini instead of 12 big ones. I'm sure they will taste the same, but small ones are cuter and allow better portioning.