The components of braised pork arancini (rice balls) can be prepared on separate days to save on the workload. (STEVEN DESALVO / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)

By STEVEN DESALVO
For Montclair Local

Arancini are among my absolute favorite food items. They are delicious and easy to assemble, and they freeze well, so if you have a lazy Sunday on your calendar sometime soon you can make a fair amount of these for anytime you want to have something fun and different! 

In a slight departure from my typical recipe format, which consists of easy and relatively quick dishes, this one takes a bit longer to prepare, but the results are so worth it you will not be upset. The only problem with these is that they’re so small and tasty that you can almost justify eating 10 of them!

You can easily prepare the different components on separate days to break up the workload because the pork mixture and the risotto need to cool anyway. That is the method that I prefer, but if you wanted to do it all in one day I would suggest that you get the pork in the oven first, then make the risotto, since the pork takes the longest. 

Braised pork arancini (rice balls)




Ingredients

Pork mixture

  • 2 bone-in pork chops (each about 1 inch thick)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1½ cups white wine
  • 1 quart chicken broth or other light broth
  • 2 tbs. soy sauce
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tbs. chopped fresh oregano
  • Risotto:

Olive oil

  • ½ yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 2 quarts chicken broth or other light broth
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano 
  • 10 chives, finely sliced
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Breading

  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs

Kitchen equipment

  • 1 4-inch-deep half hotel pan
  • 1 12-inch sauté pan
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • 3 mixing bowls
  • 2 plates
  • 1 large flat-bottomed pot for deep frying
  • Food processor

Directions for pork mixture

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Season the pork steaks generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Set the sauté pan on the stove, heat on high until it is very hot. 
  4. Add vegetable oil, place the pork steaks in the pan and sear them on both sides. Reserve them in the half hotel pan.
  5. Add more oil to the sauté pan. Add the carrots, celery, onion and dried shiitake mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. 
  6. Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes, deglaze with the white wine, add the chicken broth and soy sauce. Warm to a simmer.
  7. Pour the vegetable, wine and broth mixture over the pork. They should be just covered. Add the thyme and oregano.
  8. Cover the hotel pan with aluminum foil, poke holes in the foil, place into the preheated oven to braise for 2 hours.
  9. When the pork is done, strain the liquid and reserve for another use. Discard the herb sprigs.
  10. Remove the pork from the bones, combine with the vegetables including the dried shiitake mushrooms in the food processor. Process until finely mixed. Season to taste.
  11. Let the mixture cool in the refrigerator.

Directions for risotto

  1. Add 2 tbs. olive oil to the 10-inch sauté pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Add the diced onion. Sauté until translucent.
  3. Add the cup of rice, stir so it is coated with oil and onions.
  4. Start adding broth periodically, while constantly stirring; once the broth is mostly evaporated, add more.
  5. Cook the rice this way until it is al dente, about 12 minutes. Stop adding broth in the last couple of minutes because you want the rice mixture to be relatively dry.
  6. Remove the rice from the heat, add the cheese and chives, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Let the rice mixture cool in the refrigerator.

Directions for breading and finishing

  1. Take about a tablespoon of pork mixture, form it into a ball. In your other hand make a thin layer of risotto, wrap it around the pork ball, putting additional rice in empty spaces. The rice layer should be ¼ inch thick around the pork.
  2. Set the rice balls on a plate in the refrigerator to firm up.
  3. Put the flour (seasoned with salt and pepper), whipped eggs and bread crumbs in three separate bowls.
  4. Coat the rice balls in flour, being sure to brush off any extra, then coat them in egg, and finally in bread crumbs.
  5. Heat about 2 inches of oil in the flat-bottom pot. You can test its temperature by dropping a bread crumb in; it should begin bubbling immediately.
  6. Fry the arancini until they’re golden brown. (The best part is everything is already cooked, so you’re just looking for color!)
  7. Enjoy!

Makes about 24 arancini.

cocktails
STEVEN DESALVO

In Recipe of the Month food writer Steven DeSalvo shares a recipe Montclairians might enjoy making. DeSalvo has a degree in hospitality business management from the University of Delaware and has worked extensively in restaurants and hotels. If there is something you want to know how to make, or if you’ve eaten a dish at a local restaurant that you are dying to make at home, drop us a note at culture@montclairlocal.news.