Today’s post comes to you from Mardi at Eat. Live. Travel. Write.
For my second post here on The Mushroom Channel, I am sharing a recipe that combines some old favourite flavours with some new inspiration. I have wanted to make arancini (Italian rice balls) for some time now but it calls for leftover risotto and we never have any leftovers! On returning home from a recent trip to California, three things were in my favour with regards to making arancini – firstly, I hadn’t cooked for over two weeks and was missing my kitchen. Standing over the stove making a big pot of risotto sounded like a pretty good place to be. Secondly, whilst in San Francisco, I had the good fortune to visit Far West Fungi in The Ferry Building, where I picked up golden chanterelles, dried morels and some porcini mushroom stock cubes that are hard to find in Toronto.
Thirdly, I had some St André cheese and some fresh cremini mushrooms in the fridge needing to be used up. I got to thinking that the chanterelles would be a perfect addition to a favourite mushroom risotto, whilst the morels and St André would make an excellent filling for the rice balls. You could, of course, use any type of dried mushroom you like. I started out by making the risotto the day before I needed it for the arancini. It was difficult not to eat it then and there!
Mushroom Risotto (Serves 6)
This is the first risotto I learned how to make – adapted from a Joan Campbell recipe my mum sent me to Paris with when I moved there in 1994, photocopied from a magazine- I still have the piece of paper! It might be an oldie but it’s a goodie! This adaptation of the recipe is a fabulous dish for vegetarians at a dinner party but one that even die-hard carnivores love too! It is so simple; it has become our “go-to” recipe, even for weeknights. It’s simple but elegant and very classy.
- 1 litre mushroom stock
- 650mls water
- ½ stick (3 tablespoons) butter
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 small onions, peeled and finely diced
- salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- ½ cup of dry white wine
- small pinch saffron
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
- 3/4 cup chopped mushrooms (I used dried golden chanterelle mushrooms soaked in water for about 30 minutes)
Bring water and vegetable stock to a boil. Add the saffron to the stock. Cover and keep warm.
Meanwhile, melt butter and olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Fry onion until it is translucent. Add the Arborio rice and season with salt and pepper. Mix so that onion and rice are well combines and the grains of rice are well coated.
Add the wine and stir until the wine has nearly evaporated. Add a ladleful of the stock/water and mix until it has been absorbed. Add another ladleful and continue, a ladleful at a time until all stock has been used. Risotto should be slightly al dente (chewy). Stir in the drained and roughly chopped chanterelles and cheese and remove from the heat.
The next day I got to work on the arancini. For the filling, I used about 15g of the morels, soaked in boiling water for about 30 minutes, then drained and roughly chopped and about 16 small cubes of the St André. This amount of risotto made 10 generous arancini, so 10 starters or 5 main courses. I prepared the eggs for dipping (4 eggs, beaten) and the panko breadcrumbs (you can use ordinary ones but I like the texture of panko).
I wanted them to be about the size of small oranges so I took some of the mixture and flattened it in my palm, then added the filling. I took about the same amount of mixture again and placed it on top of the fillings and squeezed hard to form tightly compacted arancini. I heated some olive oil in a shallow pan whilst I dipped the arancini in egg and the panko. They took about 20 minutes to fry evenly all over at a medium heat.
Tomato and Fresh Cremini Mushroom Sauce
- 16oz can peeled tomatoes
- a generous handful of basil
- 4 garlic cloves,
- 3/4 cup fresh cremini mushrooms, roughly diced
Heat tomatoes, basil and garlic over medium heat until bubbling, reduce temperature and blend with an immersion blender. Add the diced mushrooms and continue to reduce to desired consistency. I like a runnier sauce so don’t reduce it that much. Top the arancini with the sauce and some fresh basil.
This was an incredible dish – your carnivore friends will never even miss the meat because of the meaty mushrooms in the filling, the risotto and the sauce – and the best part? The morel and St André surprise inside.
A lovely dish to make with your leftover risotto – that is if you have any! – or simply to make from scratch. Served with simple salad leaves, it’s a perfect light meal where mushrooms really are the star of the dish.