Fennel Arancine with Jack Cheese
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion
- 1-1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 1/2 to 6 cups low salt chicken stock, divided
- 1 teaspoon Fennel Pollen*
- finely grated zest and juice of one lemon
- about 30 1/2 inch cubes of Monterey Jack Cheese
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3 cups breadcrumbs
- about 6 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- Bring stock and lemon juice to a simmer
- Melt butter with oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add rice and salt and cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. Add stock 1/2 cup at a time and cook, stirring often, until liquid is absorbed (about 3 minutes).
- Continue to add stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring often and allowing liquid to be absorbed, until risotto is creamy and rice is tender; it should take about 30 minutes total.
- Remove risotto from heat and stir in fennel pollen and lemon zest. Season to taste with pepper and more salt, if desired.
- Spread risotto out onto a large, rimmed baking sheet and cool completely (about an hour.)
- Beat eggs and milk in a medium bowl and put breadcrumbs into a separate medium bowl or pie pan.
- Using wet hands, shape 1 heaping tablespoonful of risotto into a ball and press a cube of cheese into the center.
- Dip rice ball into egg mixture, then roll in breadcrumbs to coat the ball and place on a clean baking sheet on wax or parchment paper.
- Repeat with remaining risotto - it should make about 20-30 Arancine.
- Cover and chill for about 20 minutes, or up to a day ahead of serving.
- Pour enough oil into a heavy, large saucepan to reach a depth of about 1-1/2 inches. Attach a deep-fry thermometer to the side of the pan and heat oil to 340-350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add 4 to 5 arancine at a time and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown and crisp (about 5 minutes)
Serve immediately or hold in a 300 degree oven to keep the arancine warm.
*Available at The Honey Exchange (click this link), or other specialty foods stores.
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