Crunchy polenta coated ricotta arancini balls


I made these for a ‘pot luck’ dinner I’m going to at a friends house tonight. They were ideal for making ahead and keeping in the fridge ready to be heated up in the oven for 10 minutes when I get there. For added gluten-free joy I substituted breadcrumbs for polenta. The result is VERY crunchy.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
1/2 small onion, minced
1 1/4 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups water
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
All-purpose flour, for dredging
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup polenta

In a medium saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately low heat until softened. Add the rice and stir over moderately high heat until it is coated with oil and sizzling, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and simmer until evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer the rice to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Stir the thyme and lemon zest into the rice and season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, blend the ricotta with the Parmigiano and season with salt and pepper. Put 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture in your moistened palm. Make an indentation in the center of the mound and fill it with about 1 teaspoon of the ricotta mixture. Fold the rice around the filling to enclose it and pat the rice into an oval. Repeat with the remaining rice and ricotta.

In a medium saucepan, heat 2 inches of olive oil to 300°. Set a rack over a large baking sheet. Put the flour, eggs and polenta in 3 shallow bowls. Dredge the rice ovals in the flour, shaking off any excess. Dip the ovals in the egg, then coat with the bread crumbs. Deep-fry 5 ovals at a time until golden brown, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the arancini to the rack to drain while you fry the rest. Serve the arancini hot or warm.

Buon appetito!


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