Pumpkin Arancini

Posted on: Wednesday, October 30, 2013

With the holiday that celebrates all things pumpkin approaching, I thought it would be fun to feature the cute orange gourd in some seasonal appetizers. While we often associate pumpkins with pies, sweet loafs, and cheesecakes, why not try a savory take? I sought inspiration from my time living in the North End with twin sister Kara where arancini (fried risotto balls) practically adorn every doorstep. Originating in Sicily and often coined “rice balls” in Italian-American eateries, arancini are the ultimate crispy, melty snack (especially late night). For a seasonal flare, I added pumpkin and goat cheese to my version of arancini. The rich and creamy orbs are a nice balance to an abundance of candy and sweet ghoulish treats at any Halloween gathering. 
Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Arancini
2 T unsalted butter
2 finely diced shallots
1 minced garlic clove
2/3 c white wine (whatever you’re drinking!)
4 c chicken broth
1 1/2 c Arborio rice
1 t ground nutmeg
1 T lemon juice
1 T chopped fresh sage
3/4 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (feel free to use more if you’re a cheese fan)
4 oz goat cheese
2 c seasoned bread crumbs
3 eggs, beaten
2 T water or milk
salt and pepper throughout 
Canola oil
In a small pot, heat the chicken broth on a low flame. In a separate pan, saute the shallots in the olive oil and butter on medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and nutmeg, and stir for a couple more minutes. Add the rice to toast for a few more minutes. Add a ladle of chicken broth to the toasted rice mixture. Once that is absorbed, add the wine.

Add 2 ladles of broth at a time to the sauteed rice mixture. Once it is absorbed, add more. This process will most likely take approximately 20 minutes. Feel free to stir the rice to keep it from sticking and quicken the absorption. Eventually, the rice will plump up and have a creamy texture. At this point, stir in the pumpkin puree, lemon juice and sage. Once you are happy with a slightly al dente consistency, take the risotto off the heat and stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano and goat cheeses.

Pour the risotto onto a large parchment-lined baking sheet and spread out into a thin layer. Let chill in the refrigerator for 20 to 25 minutes, until cooled.

Heat 3 inches of canola oil in a pan to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

With a tablespoon, form the risotto into small orbs (you may need to use your hands to shape) and line up the balls on the baking sheet.

Place the bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Add the beaten eggs with a little salt, pepper and water into a second dish. Dredge the risotto balls in the eggs and then roll in the bread crumbs. In batches of 5 or 6, place the balls into the hot oil with a slotted spoon and fry for 2-3 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serves. Makes 28-30 arancini.


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