Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

  • 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.

This dish pairs beautifully well with fruity white wines like The Honey Pot (click this link) or a spicy red like Martilda Bonarda (click this link).

*Available at The Honey Exchange (click this link), or other specialty foods stores.