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Toasted Pistachio–Cheese Arancini
© Ditte Isager

Toasted Pistachio-Cheese Arancini

  • TOTAL TIME: 1 HR
  • SERVINGS: Makes 16 Arancini
  • MAKE-AHEAD
  • STAFF-FAVORITE
  • VEGETARIAN

This recipe for arancini—fried risotto balls—comes from Renato Poliafito, who got it from his Sicilian cousin Emanuele Sanfilippo. "Renato is obsessed with arancini," says Matt Lewis, "especially this version with toasted pistachios." These arancini are the size of tangerines, filled with creamy, cheesy rice, studded with nuts and green peas and encased in a great crunchy crust.

  1. 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 1 small onion, minced
  3. 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (about 10 ounces)
  4. 1/2 cup dry white wine
  5. Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
  6. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  7. 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth, warmed
  8. 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  9. 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  10. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  11. Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  12. 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, finely diced
  13. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped salted pistachios
  14. 2 tablespoons frozen baby peas, thawed
  15. 2 large eggs, beaten
  16. 1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  17. Vegetable oil, for frying
  1. In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, 7 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until well coated with butter. Add the white wine and saffron, season with salt and black pepper and cook, stirring, until the wine is absorbed, 2 minutes. Add the warm chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time and cook, stirring constantly between additions, until it is absorbed. The risotto is done when the rice is al dente, 25 minutes total. Stir in the grated cheese, transfer to a bowl and let cool.
  2. Melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan. Add the 1/2 tablespoon of flour and whisk constantly over moderate heat for 1 minute. Add the milk and cook, whisking, until thickened. Season with the nutmeg, salt and black pepper and transfer to a bowl to cool completely. Stir in the mozzarella, pistachios and peas.
  3. Line a large baking sheet with wax paper. Put the eggs, panko and flour for dusting in 3 shallow bowls. Using lightly moistened hands, shape the rice mixture into 16 equal balls. Working with one ball at a time, make an indentation in the center with your finger and press the sides to make the hollow larger. Spoon a scant tablespoon of the pistachio filling into the hollow and press the risotto around the filling to enclose it. Transfer the ball to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining risotto and filling. Dust the arancini with flour, tapping off the excess. Coat them with the egg and roll in the panko.
  4. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 350°. Fry the arancini over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until golden and heated through, 8 minutes. Drain the arancini on paper towels and serve hot.
Make Ahead The fried arancini can be refrigerated overnight; reheat them in a low oven until crispy.

Suggested Pairing

For these nutty arancini, try pouring a white wine from northern Italy. Friulano has brisk, nectariney fruit and a light nut-skin bitterness that will pair ideally here.

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