Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January Daring Cooks' Challenge - Arancine

Once upon a time, almost four years ago, the Daring Cooks had a risotto challenge.  I actually can't believe that it was four years ago... because it was both the first time that I'd ever made risottoe... and the last. Not on purpose, though! I enjoyed it very much and have wanted to make it again, but just... haven't!

But this month I got just the push I needed to jump in again!

January’s Daring Cooks’ challenge was a ball! The lovely Manu from Manu’s Menu brought our taste buds to the streets of Sicily and taught us her family tradition of making arancine – filled and fried balls of risotto. Delizioso!

Now, Manu gave us some super, amazing and delicious examples, and I kind of wanted to try them all. But I didn't want to stuff my arancine with cheese, because then little man couldn't enjoy them. And since daddy is still doing the low-carb thing, I didn't want to reduce my audience any more than that.  So I thought... dessert.

Believe it or not, dessert risotto is not uncommon. It's like super creamy rice pudding, all in one step. One long step, but one step.

I started by lightly toasting the arborio rice in coconut oil, then adding my flavorings - sugar and vanilla (along with some hot water).

And for my broth, I used coconut milk.

Scooping, stirring, scooping stirring... until...


Now, in a perfect world, I would have given myself lots of time to do this. And I could have - I decided on the flavor two weeks ago. But with how busy everything has been, lots of time just didn't happen.  So I had to rush a bit. Ideally, the risotto would not only cool completely, but would sit for a long time. Like... overnight. Me? I just let my risotto cool through.  And then I set to shaping.

I scooped up big balls of the risotto, added a few chocolate chips to the middle, re-rolled them, then rolled them in a bread crumb and coconut mixture.

All that's left is to fry them up!

Now... since my risotto didn't fully set and congeal (in a good way), my arancine were very... soft. So they didn't hold their shape very well. Or... in some cases... at all.

Despite that, these were a real treat!

They were also really rich, full of flavor and very filling. The only problem with that being that they're best right away... and there are only so many my little family can eat. Next time I'll know to make these for a crowd. And next time, I seriously want to do an all-arancine meal - meat filled ones, cheese filled ones, dessert ones... the possibilities are endless!

Manu, thank you so much for this super fun, super delicious challenge. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect host!

To see the full challenge as presented this month, you can check it out here.

And to see the other delicious arancine cooked up in the Kitchen this month, you can check those out here.

Vanilla Coconut Risotto
(from Just For Licks)

2 tablespoons butter (I used coconut oil)
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot water
2 cans (about 3 1/2 - 4 cups) unsweetened coconut milk

Heat coconut milk medium saucepan. In a larger saucepan, melt the butter (coconut oil) on low-medium heat. Add the rice and coat with butter (coconut oil). Add the hot water, sugar and vanilla. Cook until all of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring frequently. Add a ladle-ful of the milk and stir until it is almost absorbed. Continue this process until all of the liquid has been added to the risotto. It should take approximately 30-40 minutes and the risotto should be slightly al dente. Mine took a good hour, but be patient - it will work!
It's delicious as is, but for the arancine, allow it to cool fully. Preferably overnight (in the fridge once it's reached room temperature).

For the Breading:
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup honey-crunch wheat germ
1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Combine all breading ingredients together, set aside.

To prepare the Arancine:
prepared risotto
prepared breading
chocolate chips
frying oil of choice

Heat frying oil in a frying pan.
Take a generous scoop of the prepared and cooled risotto and form it into a ball in your hands. Using your thumbs, create a hole or indent in the risotto ball. Place a few (I used 5 or 6) chocolate chips into the hole, then seal the risotto ball back up.  Roll the ball in the prepared breading then fry in the hot pan until the breading is golden on all sides. Repeat with until all risotto is used.


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