Lidia Bastianich is celebrating two big anniversaries this fall: 25 years on public television, and the 10th season of Lidia's Kitchen. She's still going strong, sharing her homestyle Italian recipes with you, such as this one for arancini filled with cheese, peas, and prosciutto. It's the perfect snack for munching on while enjoying the new season of Lidia's Kitchen!
Arancini di Riso (Rice Balls)
These are a favorite appetizer in Italy, the United States, and my house for sure. Kids love them, particularly when the hidden treasure at the center is savory prosciutto and oozing cheese.
Pop these in your mouth, making sure, of course, they are not too hot. Arborio rice is recommended in the recipe, but this dish can be made with brown rice as well; just make sure you cook it long enough, and you will need to use a bit more stock.
3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup finely diced ham or prosciutto (about 3 ounces)
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock, divided
1⁄2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes (you’ll need about 24 cubes)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups fine dry breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil for frying
1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan; when the oil is hot, add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ham or prosciutto, and cook a few minutes, until the meat begins to render its fat.
2. Add the rice, and cook to coat the rice in the oil and fat. Pour in the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook until the wine is almost reduced away. Add 3 cups hot chicken stock and the salt; cover, and simmer until the chicken stock is absorbed by the rice, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups stock, and cover, letting the rice cook until al dente, about 6 to 7 minutes more. Stir in peas toward the end, and mix well; spread the rice on a rimmed sheet pan to cool.
3. When the rice is cool, put it in a bowl and stir in the grated cheese and chopped basil. Scoop out about 1⁄3 cup rice, roll into a loose ball, then poke a cube of mozzarella into the center. Pat firmly to form a tight ball around the cheese. Repeat.
4. Spread the flour and breadcrumbs on two rimmed plates, and beat the eggs in a shallow bowl. Dredge the arancini in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip them one by one in the beaten egg, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Roll in the breadcrumbs to coat thoroughly.
5. Pour an inch of vegetable oil into a large straight-sided skillet set over medium heat. Fry in batches, taking care not to crowd the skillet, turning on all sides, until golden, about 3 minutes per batch. Drain the arancini on paper towels, and season with salt while still warm.