Servings: 7 appetizers
¾ cup Arborio rice
2¼ cups vegetable stock, warmed
2 tablespoons cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces masala-flavored ground beef
(optional), make extra for regular burgers the next day
1 teaspoon saffron
2 ounces Comté cheese, diced
2 large eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 slices day-old bread, cubed
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly shaved
1½ teaspoons black pepper, freshly cracked
1 tablespoon salt
7 Bocconcini balls (or 7 pieces cubed fresh mozzarella)
1 quart peanut oil (or regular vegetable oil), for deep frying,, as needed
1 cup store-bought marinara sauce, warmed
2 cups arugula
For the risotto:
In a deep saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook the garlic for 2 minutes. In the same saucepan, add the butter and rice. Make sure the grains of rice are well coated. Add 1½ cups of warm vegetable stock and the Comté cheese and stir frequently.
After bringing the liquid to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 5 minutes. Check the liquid and periodically add ½ cup of warm water (up to an additional 2½ cups) as soon as the liquid has been absorbed. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
At this point the rice is still al dente. Season with salt and pepper. Add the saffron threads and stir well. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook for another 5 minutes.
Check doneness. Add 1 tablespoon cream, parsley and stir well. Adjust seasoning. Turn off the heat, cover and let cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.
For the burger: In a small pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil. add the ground beef and cook for 1-2 minutes until it barely changes color. Transfer to a plate.
Crack the eggs in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon cream and lightly beat the eggs.
In a food processor, combine the bread and Parmesan cheese. Pulse until they become a powder. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate.
Put the flour on another plate.
Roll the Bocconcini balls in the bread crumbs.
Grease your hands with oil (or wear disposable gloves). Divide the risotto into 7 portions. Place the risotto mixture in your palm and form 1¾"-diameter balls. Make a hole in the center of each ball, insert the mozzarella ball and a bit of ground beef (if using). Complete the hole with risotto mixture. Roll the balls in flour, then transfer to the egg mixture and finally coat the balls in the bread crumbs. Repeat until all the balls are formed.
In a large Dutch oven (or any regular deep-fryer), heat the peanut oil for about 2 minutes over high heat. There should be at least a 3-inch-high level of oil. Wait until the oil is slightly bubbly (not too hot); a thermometer should register 345°F to 360°F.
Test the oil by dropping a piece of bread into the hot oil. It should float but not swell.
Place one risotto ball at a time in the hot oil; cook up to 3 arancini per batch.
Fry in batches. Make sure the arancini don't touch each other. Lower the heat to medium. Deep fry for about 3 minutes per batch. The fritters will become golden brown. Flip each piece using a spider skimmer and cook for about a minute more until golden all around.
Delicately lift each fritter, draining as much oil as possible and transfer them to a cooling rack lined with paper towels. Continue with the rest of the arancini.
Serve immediately on a bed of arugula with warmed marinara sauce on the side.