Black truffle arancini

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Light, crisp risotto balls bursting with the flavours of black truffle, garlic and Parmesan, with a melting Fontina cheese centre: terrific little bites.

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Whenever I make risotto I always make much more than I need just so I can use what is left over to make arancini: essentially deep-fried balls of risotto.

You might not use black truffles every day, but a dish with that heady punch of black truffle now and again is always a treat.

I made a version of these arancini towards the end of Britain’s Best Home Cook as part of the Sharing Feast challenge. While I seriously messed up one of the dishes in that challenge (let it go, Philip, let it go!), these arancini balls went down a storm: Mary Berry and Chris Bavin came back once the cameras had stopped to nab another arancini: praise indeed!

Minced black truffle

I used Minced Black Truffle from Truffle Hunter and this is a marvellous ingredient in its own right. Previously with mushroom risottos and arancini I would use truffle oil to try to get a good depth of truffle flavour but this adds a full whack of the flavour you want.

A little goes a long way, but for this I used a rounded teaspoon to about 200g risotto which gave the arancini a great truffle kick and that intoxicating truffle aroma.

Thanks to Sally from Bewitching Kitchen who told me about this product that she bought when she was in the UK filming The Great American Baking Show: filmed, coincidentally, just across the way from where we filmed Best Home Cook. The world is small!

The risotto

I’ve not given a recipe for risotto here as I tend to make each one up as I go, but go for whichever risotto recipe you normally like to use. I used a standard mushroom risotto but I have made these particular arancini using a plain risotto.

I have, however, a recipe for beetroot risotto (and arancini) here. For a standard risotto you can simply omit the beetroot, walnuts and goats’ cheese from the recipe before adding the arancini flavours below.

Alternatively, for these arancini you can use a commercial risotto that comes in sachets.

Flavouring the arancini

The flavour of a risotto when balled, coated and deep-fried is lovely but I like to whack up the flavour of the cooked risotto even more when turning it into arancini: after all, you’re only having a few bites of arancini rather than a plateful of risotto so each crisp bite should explode in your mouth with flavour.

So to the cooked risotto I like to add:

  • crushed garlic so that you get the flavour of the garlic in the arancini
  • a little more Parmesan
  • the minced black truffle, whereas previously I would have used truffle oil

Shaping the arancini

You need to make sure the risotto is fully cool once you’ve added any extra flavours as it then “sets” enough to be able to be shaped easily.

It is best to have 3 plates ready to coat the balls of risotto: one with flour, one with beaten egg and one with the breadcrumbs. You can use any breadcrumbs you like: I tend to blitz whatever loaves are in the house to give very fine crumbs.

Arancini fillings

A filling is not essential, but I often go for mozzarella, Gorgonzola or Fontina as I love the way they melt as you bite into the arancini. I sometimes go for a dollop of pesto or some good ragu into the centres.

Recipe: black truffle arancini – makes about 12

For the arancini mixture:
  • about 200g cooked risotto (mushroom risotto or plain risotto)
  • 1-2 teaspoons minced black truffle
  • 1-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • a generous spritz of lemon juice
  • a few small chunks of mozzarella or Fontina (smoked is particularly fabulous)
To coat:
  • a couple of tablespoons of plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • breadcrumbs (fresh, dried, panko)

You will also need a deep-fat fryer filled with oil.

(1) Add the truffle, Parmesan, garlic and lemon juice to the risotto and leave to cool.

(2) Meanwhile mix the flour with the salt and pour onto a large plate or shallow bowl; pour the egg onto a plate; pour the breadcrumbs onto a plate.

(3) Take no more than a dessertspoon of the cooled risotto and pat down lightly. Pop a chunk of mozzarella in the centre and cover it up. Shape into a ball. Repeat with the rest of the risotto.

(4) Roll the balls into the flour and dust off. Then roll them in teh egg, coating them all over. Remove and shake off the excess and place them onto the breadcrumbs. Roll them around to give a thin coating. Set aside until needed.

(5) Deep-fry the coated balls at 180C for about 5 minutes or until deep golden brown. Drain and serve.

NB: these can be deep-fried in advance and reheated in the oven at about 180C for 10 minutes.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking & eating.

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