makes 12 large orange-sized arancine or 24 smaller ones
5 cups chicken broth
pinch of saffron
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 small onion, diced
2 cups Arborio, Carnaroli or Aquerello rice
a rind of Parmigianno Reggiano cheese (if you have it) or 2 tablespoons grated cheese
2-3 egg whites
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (you can also use panko)
1 egg, beaten
about 1 cup (approximately) of meat sauce, bolognese, or ragu
enough vegetable oil (I used Canola) to give you about 4 inches of oil in your pot
Make the risotto:
Heat the broth, add the saffron to it and keep it warm in a pot next to the pot in which you want to make your risotto.
In a medium size heavy pot, heat the olive oil and butter. Saute the onion with a pinch of salt gently for a few minutes. Do not let it brown. Add the rice, raise the heat a little and toast the rice for a couple of minutes. Add a couple of ladlefuls of broth and stir the risotto. Add the cheese rind. Lower the heat a little - you do not want the mixture to boil, but just to simmer gently. When the rice has absorbed the broth, add two more ladlefuls. You can tell when to add the broth by running your spoon through the mixture. If the liquid immediately fills in the crevice you make, let it cook some more. If it remains clear, it is time to add more broth (see photo in post for an example). Keep adding broth and stirring, repeating until rice is tender, about 25 minutes. You may not use all the broth. If you don't have enough broth, continue with plain water. If you don't have a cheese rind, at this point add the grated cheese and mix. Pour the risotto onto a baking sheet and let cool. You can refrigerate it to let it cool.
Line a baking tray with a sheet of parchment or wax paper. Place the egg whites in a small bowl and beat a little with a fork. Place the bread crumbs in a small bowl. Place the meat sauce into a small bowl.
Scrape the cooled risotto into a bowl and add the whole beaten egg. Mound some risotto into your hand using a quantity a little smaller than what size you want the finished arancine. With a spoon or your hand, make an indentation in the risotto. Place about a tablespoon of meat sauce in the indentation, add some risotto over the top and gently mold the whole thing into a ball. Roll the arancine in the egg whites and then in the bread crumbs. Place the arancine onto the wax paper. After they are all done, place them in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
Heat about 4 inches of oil in a small pot or use a fryer if you have one. When the oil becomes hot enough to fry, lower the arancine one at a time into the oil with a handled strainer. Let fry for a few minutes, checking the color so they do not burn and gently rotating them with the strainer. When they are golden brown, remove with the strainer and place on paper towels to drain.
Arancine can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated for a couple of days. They can also be frozen. Just heat up gently in the oven.