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Arancini Al Nero De Seppia (Squid Ink)

What do you do with three cups of leftover risotto al nero de seppia?
Make arancini, of course.

Although everyone in the house loves these crispy little risotto balls, I rarely make them because, frankly, I am still terrified of deep frying. The odd time I make them, I either bake them or pan fry them in a shallow pan with a bit of oil and although good, they aren't amazing. To really enjoy an arancini, you need the crispy crust that you crack to reveal the soft, creamy rice innards and you can really only get that crust by deep frying them.

Now that I am 50, I have decided it is high time to face some of my fears in the face so I pulled out a small pot, a bottle of canola oil and my instant read thermometer and did what needed to be done. I am not going to tell you that it was a walk in the park, emotionally, but I buckled down and heated that damned oil all the way to 350F and deep fried these arancini like a boss. The panko adds a bit more substance to the coating but you can always just use plain, old dried bread crumbs if you like.

I have been ordering rabbit arancini all over the place lately so I suppose it's a "thing" right now and each time it comes sauced with a rich, aioli type sauce but because this rice is so rich I wanted something with a bit of an edge to it. I thought about a tomato sauce but chose to make a smoky roasted red pepper sauce instead. I was worried that this might cause a revolt from my old school, marinara loving guy but he didn't say one word about the lack of tomato sauce and, in fact, I took the fact that his little bowl of sauce had been wiped clean as a sign that the red pepper sauce was a good call.

Shack was so happy that he has decided to buy me a tiny deep fryer just for this very purpose. The man loves his arancini.

Arancini al Nero de Seppia

make approx 12 large golf ball sized balls


3 cups of cold, leftover risotto al nero de seppia
about 1/4 cup-1/2 cup of fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
2 eggs, 1 of the yolks separated out
all purpose flour for dredging
about 3/4 cup panko
2 tbls black sesame seeds
vegetable oil for deep frying (I use canola)


Whisk the separated egg yolk and dump into the risotto, making sure it's mixed in thoroughly.

Put a piece of parchment on a cookie tray.

Wet your hands to make working with the risotto a bit easier. You are going to take enough rice to make a big golfball sized ball, roll it roughly, flatten it out against your palm and make a shallow well in the middle. Put a chunk of cheese and then close it over with the rice, rolling it again to make a nice, smooth ball. Place it on the cookie tray and continue until you have used up all of the rice.

Put about 1/2 cup of flour in one shallow bowl, whisk the 1 egg white with the second whole egg in another bowl and then put the panko and sesame seeds in a third. This will be your dredging station.

I like to use my left hand for dredging and egging and keep my right clean for the breadcrumbs or else you get a gummy mess.

Take a ball and roll it gently in the flour until it's coated (give it a shake to get off the excess when you take it out). Next, drop it in the egg and roll it around, pick it up and let the excess drip back into the bowl before you drop it into the panko/sesame seed bowl. Now, shake it around and use your clean, right hand to make sure it's completely coated in bread crumbs before putting it back onto the cookie tray.

When all of the balls are coated, put it back in the fridge for about an hour to let them set up a bit.

When it's time to cook, heat a pot of oil that is deep enough to cover the balls until the oil reaches 350F. Gently lower a couple of rice balls at a time into the oil using a slotted spoon and deep fry until golden, orangey brown (about 4 minutes will probably do it)

Remove to a paper towel lined plate. If you have lots to do, transfer them to a tray in the oven set at 200F to keep them warm until you are all done.

Serve with Smoky Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Smoky Roasted Red Pepper Sauce


1-2 tbls olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 12 oz (340g)  jar of roasted red peppers, chopped roughly
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
3/4 cup chicken stock


Heat the olive oil in small saute pan and saute the shallot for a minute or two. Add in the garlic and saute the garlic for another minute. Now add in the peppers and smoked paprika, saute for another couple of minutes. Add in the stock and let it come to a light boil and cook until it starts to reduce a bit, about another 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, let cool for a minute before you pour it into a blender and blend until you have a smooth sauce.

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