A modern take on my family recipe for a very popular Sicilian street food: Arancine with Spinach - fried balls of saffron rice filled with spinach and bechamel.
Main, Street Food
2tablespoons30 ml olive oil
4tablespoons60 ml (55 gm) (2 oz) butter
3cups750 ml (600 gm) (21 oz) Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice
½cup120 ml white wine or extra stock or water
About 4 cups1 litre beef stock (depending on cooking time)
½cup120 ml (55 gm) (2 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
7oz200 gm wilted spinach, chopped
Salt to taste
Above Saffron Risotto
250ml1 cup béchamel sauce (as per my tutorial)
2-1/3oz65 gm Mozzarella, diced
Vegetable oil for frying
Start by putting the stock in a pot and heat until hot. The stock has to be hot all the time while you are cooking risotto, so that the rice temperature does not drop when you add the stock to it.
Put the finely chopped onion and the extra virgin olive oil in a pot and let it cook on a slow (low) heat, until the onion becomes soft and transparent.
Add the rice, mix well and let it cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until the rice becomes translucent.
Now pour in the white wine and let the alcohol burn off by cooking on a high flame.
Then add enough stock to cover the rice and turn the heat to medium-low.
Keep cooking, occasionally stirring the rice and adding stock little by little, until the rice is a little more than half cooked. It is going to take about 13 minutes (NOTE - the rice HAS to be undercooked at this stage as it will keep cooking until it cools down completely. By the end of the process it will be just right).
After approximately 8 minutes add the saffron and keep cooking.
After the 13 minutes are up, turn the heat off and add the butter and Parmigiano Reggiano to your risotto. Mix very well, until it becomes creamy, but dry (if it’s too moist, you will have a hard time making balls out of it). Check for salt and season to your liking.
Pour on a sheet of baking paper, spread well and allow to cool down completely.
Sauté the garlic with the butter. Add the wilted spinach and mix well. Cook for a couple of minutes. Season with salt to taste.
When the rice has cooled down, make 10 to 12 balls with it and then open them by putting your thumb in one side. The hole has to be quite large to allow you to fill them as much as possible with the stuffing.
Fill them with 1 tablespoon of béchamel sauce and 1 tablespoon of spinach. Add some chopped mozzarella and close the balls with your hands. Keep them aside.
Roll them in egg white (slightly beaten with the fork) and in a mixture of flour and breadcrumbs (half and half).
Shallow fry in warm vegetable oil until golden brown. Serve warm.