• 25g mixed dried wild mushrooms
• Flavourless oil, e.g. groundnut, for frying
• 1 small onion or banana shallot, peeled and finely diced
• 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
• 250g risotto rice
• 125ml dry white wine
• 500ml vegetable or chicken stock
• 25g Parmesan cheese, grated
• 9 mini mozzarella cheese balls or ½ a large ball
• 1–2 eggs, beaten
• About 100g plain flour
• 125g panko breadcrumbs or ordinary breadcrumbs
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Lemon wedges, to serve (optional)
Soak the mushrooms in 250ml hot water for 20 minutes.
Heat a heavy-based, high-sided frying pan or saucepan over a medium heat. Add a generous knob of butter and a glug of oil and sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes until soft but not coloured.
Add the rice and stir vigorously around the pan for a couple of minutes until the grains start to turn slightly translucent at the edges. Deglaze the pan by pouring in the wine and scraping up the bits at the bottom. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for a minute or two to burn off the alcohol.
Meanwhile, heat the stock and add the soaking liquor from the mushrooms. Add a ladleful of the hot stock mixture to the rice and stir over a medium heat until absorbed, then add another ladleful. Repeat until all the stock is used up or the rice is tender but still al dente. Make sure to stir regularly to create a creamy risotto. (This should take about 20 minutes.)
Chop the rehydrated mushrooms into small pieces and gently stir into the cooked risotto. Add a knob of butter and the Parmesan, then stir to mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, then leave the risotto to cool (it will do this more quickly if you spread it on to a baking tray).
If using mini mozzarella balls, halve them; if using part of a large ball, cut it into 1.5–2cm cubes.
Lay out 3 plates or shallow bowls. Put the beaten egg in one, the flour (seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper) in another and the breadcrumbs in the final one.
Once the risotto is cooled (it doesn’t matter if it is still a little warm, as long as it has stiffened up a bit and is cool enough to handle), roll it into balls the size of golf balls. Push a piece of mozzarella into the middle of each ball, ensuring that the cheese is completely enclosed. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Heat a deep-fat fryer to 170°C or fill a large saucepan one-third full of flavourless oil and heat until a cube of bread dropped into the hot oil sizzles and turns golden brown in 30 seconds.
Dip a rice ball into the flour, shake off any excess, then dip into the egg, allowing any excess to drip off. Finish by coating completely in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining balls.
Deep-fry the balls in batches for 2–3 minutes until golden brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve immediately while the middles are still melting. Drizzle with lemon juice if desired.
HOW TO SHALLOW-FRY ARANCINI
You can make arancini with leftover risotto, if you happen to have some to hand. They can also be shallow-fried rather than deep-fried. Cook them over a medium heat and make sure you turn them frequently, basting with the oil.