Piatti’s Arancini

Chef Edward Huante of Piatti (516 San Ysidro Rd., Montecito; 969-7520) is kicking off a summer Winemaker Dinner Series with Byron Winery’s award-winning winemaker, Jonathon Nagy, on April 24. The five-course menu will include “arancini,” an Italian word that translates to “little oranges,” but they are actually fried rice balls with stuffing. Here’s Huante’s recipe.

2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms

1 c. water

½ stick butter

2 tsp. minced shallots

1½ c. Arborio rice

2 Tbs. tomato paste

½ c. white wine

Warm chicken broth

Salt & pepper

¼ c. Parmesan cheese

Fontina cheese, cut into ¼-inch cubes

Bread crumbs

Flour

Beaten eggs

Place porcini mushrooms in a small pot with water and a lid. Boil and then set aside to cool. Remove mushrooms from water, chop into small pieces, and return to reserved water. Bring chicken broth to simmer. In a medium-sized sauce pan, slowly saute the shallots in the butter. When the shallots are tender, add Arborio rice and stir with wooden spoon for two minutes. Add tomato paste and stir until it coats the rice. Add white wine and allow to evaporate slightly. It’s important to stir rice constantly and cook at a low simmer. Add a ladle-full of broth at a time; allow the liquid to almost completely evaporate before adding more. After first addition of broth, season with salt and pepper and add the porcini water mixture. Slightly overcook the rice-cook about half an hour. The rice will melt between your fingers when done; it should be slightly creamy. Stir in Parmesan cheese and spread out the rice on a cookie sheet to cool in the refrigerator. When the rice has cooled, form arancini by taking a small hand full of mixture, place Fontina cube in center, and roll as you would a meatball, making sure that the cheese is completely covered. Balls should be about 1.5-2 inches. Roll rice ball in flour, dredge in egg, and finish in bread crumbs. Fry balls at about 350 degrees; make sure oil completely covers balls to cook evenly. Pat dry and serve with a warm marinara sauce or flavored aioli.

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