Lidia Bastianich is celebrating two major anniversaries this fall: 25 years on public television and the 10th season of Lidia’s kitchen. Still going strong, she shares her homemade Italian recipes with you, like this one for arancini stuffed with cheese, peas, and prosciutto. It’s the perfect snack to chew on while enjoying the new season of Lidia’s kitchen!
This is a favorite appetizer in Italy, the United States and certainly in my house. Kids love it, especially when the hidden treasure in the middle is savory prosciutto and oozing cheese.
Put these in your mouth and of course make sure they are not too hot. Arborio rice is recommended in the recipe, but this dish can also be made with brown rice; just make sure you cook it long enough, and you’ll need a little more stock.
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped ham or prosciutto (about 3 ounces)
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock, divided
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1-inch cubes (you’ll need about 24 cubes)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups fine dry breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil for frying
1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan; when the oil is hot, add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ham or prosciutto and cook for a few minutes, until the meat starts to get fat.
2. Add the rice and cook until the rice is coated with oil and fat. Pour in the wine, bring to a boil and cook until the wine has almost reduced. Add 3 cups of hot chicken stock and the salt; cover and simmer until the chicken stock is absorbed by the rice, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups of stock and cover, letting the rice cook al dente, about 6 to 7 minutes more. Towards the end, stir in the peas and mix well; spread the rice on a rimmed baking pan to cool.
3. When the rice has cooled, put it in a bowl and stir in the grated cheese and chopped basil. Scoop out about 13 cups of rice, roll into a loose ball, then stick a cube of mozzarella in the center. Pat firmly to form a tight ball around the cheese. To repeat.
4. Divide the flour and breadcrumbs between two rimmed plates and beat the eggs in a shallow bowl. Dip the arancini in the flour and shake off the excess. Dip them one at a time in the beaten egg and let the excess drip back into the bowl. Roll in the breadcrumbs so that it is well coated.
5. Pour an inch of vegetable oil into a large, straight-sided skillet over medium heat. Fry in batches, taking care not to overcrowd skillet, turn on all sides, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per batch. Drain the arancini on kitchen paper and season with salt while they are still warm.