Turn Leftover Risotto Into A Classic Italian Fried Snack

Could there be a cuisine more comforting than Italian? Sure, other gastronomic traditions have plenty of homey, nourishing dishes to offer — from crispy southern fried chicken to warming Japanese ramen – but Italian food's starchy, carby goodness truly has a way of warming the heart.

Where else can you find such an abundance of pizza, pasta, and bread, not to mention milky cheeses, golden olive oils, and fatty cold cuts? Italian cuisine does, of course, feature plenty of light options, such as puckery eggplant caponata and summery panzanella salad, but it doesn't shy away from richness.

Perhaps no dish encapsulates the Italian love of carby comfort food more than risotto, that creamy, dreamy concoction of carefully simmered rice enriched with plenty of butter, cheese, and even bone marrow (via Lidia's Italy). And as if risotto weren't indulgent enough as is, there's a common street food preparation of leftover risotto that — why not? — adds deep-frying to the whole shebang.

Arancini are deep-fried balls of creamy risotto goodness

According to Nonna Box, the deep-fried risotto fritters called arancini are a snack with Sicilian origins that are enjoyed all over Italy. Consisting of short-grain Italian rice, either arborio or carnaroli, that's either boiled in salted water or leftover from a prepared dish (via Lidia's Italy), the rice balls are stuffed with fillings, rolled in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried in hot oil until crisp and golden brown. Arancini are believed to have been inspired by kibbeh, the Middle Eastern bulgur and ground meat fritters that have a similar shape, size, and preparation method, per Nonna Box. In the 10th century, Sicily was under Arab rule, and this is likely when arancini were first created.

If you don't necessarily feel like whipping up arancini from scratch, but you've got some leftover risotto clinging to the sides of its pot and going all gluey, using it to make rice balls is a perfect plan, according to Bon Appétit. Simply wet your hands to keep the rice from sticking, then use them to roll small balls out of the leftover, cold risotto. You can stick a chunk of filling into the balls' interior, such as a cube of fresh mozzarella cheese or even Chinese sausage, then roll the ball closed and chill the arancini until firm. 

You'll pass the balls through flour, egg wash, and a breadcrumb coating, then fry them in plenty of hot oil registering 340 degrees Fahrenheit, drain them, and enjoy them piping-hot, per Bon Appétit.