Yum, yum, yum!!! These arancini may take a little T.L.C. to prepare, but they are well worth the effort. I don’t know what I love more about them — the hints of saffron or the melted mozzarella cheese in the center of each bite? I was inspired to create this recipe after my husband and I recently visited one of our favorite restaurants, Il Pizzaiolo, in Market Square, Pittsburgh. As an appetizer, they offer four arancini: two with ground meat in the center and two with mozzarella cheese. They are divine!! We both swear we can taste hints of saffron in the ones filled with meat, but we can’t be sure. In any event, I had to create something that would tide us over until our next date night. Put your heart into making these and your loved ones will really feel special when you serve them! They are perfect for all ages, too!
Over medium-low heat, melt butter in a large pan. Add arborio rice to the pan and move around with a wooden spoon, lightly toasting the rice.
Add one cup of chicken stock to the pan, stirring the rice and allowing it to absorb the stock. Add saffron. Continue to stir the rice and add stock as the liquid is absorbed until there is no stock left and the rice is fully cooked. Set aside and allow to cool.
Create a station to prepare the rice balls. Specifically, be sure to have a bowl of breadcrumbs, another bowl of mozzarella pearls, and a plate/bowl to place the rice balls before frying.
Add three eggs to the rice and combine with a wooden spoon.
Gather roughly three tbsp. rice in clean hands and create a nest. Place mozzarella in the nest and close to create a ball. Roll in breadcrumbs. Set aside.
Heat enough oil to submerge the rice balls over medium-low heat.
Fry the rice balls until golden brown and place on a paper towel lined plate.
To plate, spoon 3 tbsp. marinara onto a dish. Top with 3 rice balls. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.