Risotto balls: Arancini di riso

Rick Stein's arancini, or 'little oranges' as it translates in Italian, are delicious morsels of cheese, ham and peas wrapped in a ball of risotto rice and deep fried
By Rick Stein
Risotto balls: Arancini di riso
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes plus chilling
  • Effort: easy


For the risotto

  • 1.2 litres chicken stock
  • 1 small pinches of strands of saffron
  • 45 g unsalted butter
  • 250 g risotto rice, such as arborio or carnaroli
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 25 g finely grated parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the filling

  • 75 g provolone piccante or mature gruyère cheese, cut into 5mm dice
  • 2 thin slices prosciutto, (air-dried ham, such as parma), cut into 1cm squares
  • 100 g cooked peas
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 150 g dried white breadcrumbs
  • sunflower or vegetable oil, for deep-frying


1. For the risotto: Bring the stock to the boil with the saffron, then leave over a low heat.

2. In a medium-sized pan, melt the butter, add the rice and cook gently for about 2 minutes until the rice begins to look translucent.

3. Add a ladleful of the hot stock to the rice and simmer, stirring constantly, until it has all been absorbed. Add another ladleful of stock and continue like this until the rice is tender and creamy but still a little al dente this will take about 20-25 minutes.

4. Stir in the egg yolk and parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Spoon the risotto onto a shallow baking tray, press a sheet of clingfilm onto the surface and leave to go cold. Chill for 2 hours.

2. To form the arancini you need to divide the risotto mixture into 30g pieces by dampening your hands with water and shaping them one piece at a time. To do this, flatten the mixture on the palm of one hand and put 2 cubes of cheese, a couple of pieces of prosciutto and 4 cooked peas into the centre, then shape the rice around the filling into a ball, patching up any gap with a little more of the risotto mixture.

3. Heat some oil for deep-frying to 180°C. Dip the rice balls into the beaten egg and then the breadcrumbs and deep-fry in batches for 3-4 minutes until they are crisp and golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately.

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