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Arancini (Crispy Risotto Balls)

Recipe from: Chef Joe Youkhan's Tasting Spoon

It's time for some delicious, gourmet Italian comfort food at The Tasting Spoon truck in Orange County, where they serve Crispy Buttermilk Marinated Calamari, Arancini and even a Foie Gras Slider.

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4 cups chicken stock, hot
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 cup Carnaroli rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup finely grated Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 eggs
2 cups Bolognese sauce (see below)
1/4-inch diced chunks of Provolone cheese
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup Panko bread crumbs

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and sauté until transparent, about 4 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is opaque and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed. While continually stirring with a wooden spoon, begin adding the stock in 1/2 cup increments, allowing the liquid to become completely absorbed by the rice between additions. Cook until the rice is just tender and the risotto is creamy, about 20 minutes. Add the grated cheese, salt and pepper and stir to combine well. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add the Bolognese sauce and cool completely. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

When ready to make the Arancini, remove the chilled risotto from the refrigerator and stir in 1 of the eggs. Using a small scoop or large spoon, divide the risotto into approximately portions of approximately 3 tablespoons each. Using your hands, form the portions into rough ball shapes.

Press a hole into the center of each risotto ball and stuff the center with a chunk of Provolone cheese. Press the opening closed and roll the ball between your hands until it is smooth. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow balls to set before coating and frying.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 inches of oil until a deep-fry thermometer registers 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the flour, remaining 2 eggs and Panko in 3 separate bowls. Using a fork lightly beat the eggs. One by one, lightly dredge each Arancini in the flour, rolling to coat completely, then the beaten egg mixture, then the Panko, so that each ball is completely coated.

Fry the balls in batches for 2 to 3 minutes, a few at a time, turning once during cooking so that they are evenly browned. Transfer balls to paper towel lined plates. Serve hot or warm, sprinkled with Romano cheese.

Yield: 4 servings

1/4 cup olive oil
450 grams ground beef
225 grams ground hot Italian sausage
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots, diced small
1 onion, diced small
2 cups tomato sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the beef and sausage and cook until brown, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the pieces. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove the beef from the pot and set aside. Set the pot back over the heat and add a little more olive oil. Add carrots, onion and celery. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the beef back to the pot, then add the tomato sauce. Simmer for 40 minutes until very thick.