Risotto Balls with Bocconcini & Basil

Risotto Balls by she cooks, she gardens

 

Damn, I love these things. They are a labour of love, incredibly fattening but they are so, so worth it! Cheesy, tomato-ey risotto, encased in a crispy, golden fried crumb. Vego’s and carnivores alike will scoff them down so be sure to set a couple aside for yourself before plating up. If you’ve ever made Arancini before then you’ll note that these are anything but authentic, I don’t put cheese in the centre and roll the ball around it, I simply mix through the bocconcini and roll away. It’s part of the fun of it, now and then you’ll get one ball with a minor cheese eruption but seriously, a bit of fried cheese never hurt anyone. 🙂

dsc_4269

I first started making these about two years ago for our housewarming and they are a hit every time. The original recipe is from my party food bible ‘Party: the complete guide to food and drinks‘, it is full of great, basic recipes for feeding a crowd. Each time I’ve made them I have adapted the recipe for taste and I’ve finally got something I’m happy with. Cooking on a large-scale can be very time-consuming so I’m always trying to work out ways to streamline the process, we actually purchased a deep-fryer in the sales to speed up the cooking process and it’s proven to be a worthy investment.

dsc_4334

Finely dice the bocconcini to ensure even distribution

You could certainly shallow fry these on the stove top but they probably won’t have an even golden crumb like the ones you see above and if you’re making the volume I’ve suggested below then it will take you forever so if you do have access to a deep-fryer then I recommend giving it a go. You could also oven bake them to significantly cut the fat content but seeing as I only make them for parties I like to go the whole hog as people will generally only eat one or two.

Add the cheese and basil to the risotto mix just before rolling up. Mix through well.

I like to make the risotto the night before, let it set and firm up in the fridge overnight before rolling, battering and frying in the morning. Making the risotto and balling up are both tedious and time-consuming purely because of the volume, so just bear that in mind. The recipe usually yields about 75 medium balls to 120 bite-sized morsels, it really depends on your preference (and your patience levels!). They keep really well in the fridge and can be reheated easily in the oven (covered with foil), I have never frozen them before but I reckon they would do ok.

The rolling station: It’s where the magic happens!

 

Risotto Balls with Bocconcini & Basil
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These crispy, cheesy risotto balls with bocconcini and basil are a guarateed crowd-pleaser.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Party Food
Serves: 75
Ingredients
  • 8 cups vegetable stock - I use Massel 'Chicken' style (equals two 1 litre packs)
  • 3 tbspns olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 bottle tomato passata
  • 2 tbspns butter
  • 1.5 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 650g baby bocconcini, finely chopped
  • 1 large bunch of Basil (or two supermarket style packs)
  • plain flour for coating (I usually use about half a packet, with some leftover)
  • 1 dozen eggs, you'll probably use about 9 depending on how messy you are
  • Breadcrumbs for crumbing
  • 3 litres of canola oil for deep fryer
Method
  1. Make your risotto:
  2. You'll need two saucepans: one large, heavy-based pan for the risotto and a medium-large sized saucepan for your stock.
  3. Heat the stock until simmering and keep warm over a low flame. Add half a bottle of passata to the stock and stir well to combine.
  4. In the risotto pan add the olive oil and heat for about a minute.
  5. Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly for 5 minutes, until translucent but not brown.
  6. Add the rice and fry gently for a few minutes until the rice is coated and has started to change colour.
  7. Add the remaining passata, stir well and allow to cook off for a couple of minutes until hot and bubbling.
  8. Add the stock, one ladelful at a time, stirring the whole time. When the stock has been absorbed, add more and continue until all the stock has been used and your rice is cooked. You want it slightly al dente (ie. with a little bite), this will take up to an hour.
  9. Remove from the heat, allow to sit for a couple of minutes and then add the butter and parmesan cheese. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Allow to cool completely and then put in the fridge overnight.
  11. Making risotto balls:
  12. Cut up the cheese and finely dice the basil. Add to the risotto mix and stir well with a wooden spoon. Make sure the cheese and basil are evenly distributed.
  13. Set up your workspace to prepare for rolling and crumbing; set out flour, 3-4 eggs (beat well) and breadcrumbs. Refer photo above to see how I like to do it.
  14. Grab a small amount of risotto mix (I start out using an ice-cream scoop to get an idea of size) and roll into a loose ball. The mix will be sticky so don't be too precious about how they look at the moment.
  15. Roll in the flour and continue to shape the ball. Drop in the egg mix and coat well.
  16. Remove from your egg mix and allow any excess to drip off before dropping in the breadcrumb mixture.
  17. Roll in breadcrumbs and finalise the shape of your ball.
  18. Continue the process until all the mixture has been rolled and crumbed. Stop halfway through, have a cup of tea and a sit down otherwise you might go a little crazy. 😉
  19. Store batches of balls in the fridge until ready to fry.
  20. Frying your risotto balls:
  21. Safety first! Please be careful and avoid burning yourself. If you've never used a deep-fryer before then please read and follow the manufacturers instructions. Practice with some chips/fries first to get the hang of the heat and the process.
  22. Paul actually does this bit as he's much better at it than me! He likes to set up outside to avoid making the house smell like a fish and chip shop.
  23. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Keep an eye on things and carefully remove the basket when they reach the colour you prefer. Allow the balls to drain and cool slightly.
  24. Set out on some paper towel to drain off any excess oil and allow to cool.
  25. Keep going until all the mixture has been fried.
  26. Once complete, take a deep breath and give yourself a pat on the back. Savour at least one ball before you put them away, I tend to try the 'exploded' ones (you'll see what I mean) as the fried cheese is particularly delicious.
  27. They will keep well in the fridge for up to a week in an airtight container. Re-heat in the oven at 150-160 for about 15-20 minutes. Cover with foil to avoid further browning.
  28. Sit back and enjoy the compliments!
Notes
Recipe adapted from 'Party: the complete guide to food and drinks'
For more party food ideas hop on over to my Party Food Special.

dsc_4347

8 Comments

Leave a comment. Tell me what you think.