Wednesday, 23 February 2011

... a random recipe

... when i set this challenge back at the beginning of the month I think i got slightly carried away with the actual setting of the challenge and for some reason I completely put the thought to the back of my mind that i, myself would actually have to complete an entry... and suddenly last week, as some of your fabulous entries began to come in, I started to panic...

... I have a lot of cookbooks... many of them I have merely opened for the food-porn pictures alone... what if I pick something I would just never make in a million years?!?!... what if I got pickle... or brawn... or those bloody trendy macaroons for goodness sake... but as i took my books from the shelf and asked The Viking to come in and mediate, I started to realise what fun this was going to be... and what a true test of both cook and cookbook this really was...

... and I got a total surprise... Arancini from Giorgio Locatelli's brilliant Made In Italy... it's one of those vast volumes of a book which contains lovely stories about Italy peppered with delicious recipes... I think I 'acquired' this book from when we produced the Observer Food Monthly Awards back in 2008 and I think it's sat on my shelf for years without even a merest glance from me...

... and the punishment for ignoring this book is Arancini... fried and stuffed risotto balls... so not only do I have to make the Arancini but I have to make a risotto and a ragu before I can make the dish I'm supposed to make... blimey!

Arancini stuffed with mozzarella and ragu

you're supposed to make this dish with left over risotto and ragu... but i don't ever remember there ever being any left over anything in this house...

Vegetarian Ragu

1 onion - finely chopped
1 carrot - finely chopped
1 celery - finely chopped
2 garlic cloves - crushed
1 pkt Quorn mince or similar (or use mushrooms)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 glass red wine
1 cup of veg stock
2 bay leaves

- saute the onions, then celery, then carrots and garlic until soft.

- add the mince, tomatoes, wine, stock bay leaves and peas and simmer gently for a good hour with the lid on, then a further 20 minutes without the lid until it has reduced down into an unctuous gloop.

Saffron Risotto

2.5 litres good veg stock
50g butter
1 onion - finely chopped
400g good risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli)
1 glass white wine
a teaspoon of saffron threads

- saute the onions in butter until soft

- add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes, then add the glass of wine and stir again

- prepare the stock to include the saffron

- ladle in the stock slowly, stirring in between each ladle-full until the moisture is absorbed, continue until the stock has all been used.

- allow the risotto to cool completely before using


1 portion of risotto
1/2 a portion of ragu
a ball of buffalo mozzarella - torn onto small portions
a handful of basil leaves
3 eggs (beaten)
vegetable oil for deep frying

- take a small ball of risotto in the palm of your hands and make an indent with your thumb

- spoon a little ragu into the indent, add some mozzarella and basil and then close up your hand so that the risotto encloses the filling into a ball

- make sure there are no gaps in the ball, then dip first into the egg, then the flour, then the egg again and finally the breadcrumbs

- deep fry the balls (170) in the veg oil, don't do too many at a time as they need room to fry and go golden all over... should take 4-5 Min's... I don't have a deep fryer so did it in a pan, which worked fine.

... you can also freeze the balls before frying and then fry for 10-15 Min's...

the arancini before coating

... I'm so glad i made these... they are something I've often admired but never made... it's doubtful I'd make them again in a hurry but in fact, if ever I make risotto if I just make a little extra these balls would make a great party food... you could stuff them with so many things such as pesto, or sausage or just plain old cheese...

so... don't forget for those who haven't entered yet, you still have until the end of the next weekend... you'll find the rules here... happy random recipe choosing!

eat and of course enjoy!


  1. This look absolutely deñlicious! love this recipe! gloria

  2. I absolutely adore these but have never made them, a gorgeous Italian girl in a local cafe makes these brilliantly, I asked for the recipe but she said it was a family secret so I'm chuffed this was your random recipe. X

  3. You lost me at "Quorn mince" but I'm going to find out what it is since this recipe sounds delicious. I've seen them done but have never had one. Now I'm off to the OED to see what the heck....


  4. Dom... These look wonderful! Like little rice croquettes ... they reminded of a little plate of tapas! Labor intensive, but sooo worth the flavors!

  5. Great recipes I just post in my blog as well the version of chef James Reeson.

  6. they are absolutely perfect!!!!! well done Dom!!!! oh thats going to be one of my next challenges then!!!!
    Yours are so inviting!!!!

  7. Ha ha - dropped yourself in it. But worth it - they look amazing. I always have these if I see them on the menu in a restaurant - love them - but have never bothered making my own.
    I think I would just use left over risotto and put a lump of mozzarella in the middle - that would skip the step of making the ragu.
    Well done - very impressive!
    Must say - this is a very exciting challenge.

  8. This looks fab Dom. Fiddly but well done. I must say, it'll be so hard for me to resist eating the risotto and the ragu. Leftover risotto rarely happen at my place. Happened once I think and that's because I cook for 6 and only me eating. :)
    Great challenge. I look forward for next month's already...

  9. Well I do hope you have learnt your lesson lol. But they look fab so I am sure the ragu and risotto making wasn't total punishment. Must get myself into gear and participate in this challenge myself!

  10. I'm getting very nervous as to what I'll choose!!!

    These little beauties show what a great challenge this is Dom.

  11. It's dangerous to come here before dinner.

  12. What a shame - I've just finished eating risotto for dinner but there's none left!

  13. Yum - love the look of the crunchy topping. And I'd forgotten just what a brilliant book Made in Italy is. All hail Locatelli!

  14. Well I'm impressed - especially since you didn't cheat. It's a risky business this challenge of yours, but there are fine discoveries to be made.

  15. Wow Dom, those look delicious, and like a lot of work, LOL, sorry I couldn't help myself! Enjoy! I need to make a selection tomorrow! Wish me luck!

  16. Thanks all for the kind comments... they were a bugger to make but well worth it... I think you'd have to have a very special occasion to make them though...

    @OBCS... good luck for your Random Recipe pick!

    Dom x

  17. These sound b...... lovely, just the sort of thing I love but would never make as it's just a bit too faffy. But this was just what you started your event for and a great idea it is too. Thankfully I got a nice easy one this time around :)

  18. They look really lovely - I don't think I'll ever have leftover risotto though! I hadn't heard of putting ragu into the middles of them though - only melting cheese....

  19. I had literally just been thinking of making these (and making some cheesy fritters with leftover spag bol - genius Italians!) - so this is absolutely perfect timing. Thank you!

  20. That is most definitly food porn!

  21. WOW a very Italian recipe! Just a little bit hard but it's worth


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