It's January, let's deep fry everything!
When it comes to deep fat frying, my sentiment is exactly that: "Let's deep fry everything. EVERYTHING. NOW..." Chips and fish and spring rolls and mars bars and onions and twinkies and cockles and chicken and olives and... What could possibly not be made better by battering or covering in breadcrumbs and sizzling until it's golden? I am only saved from an exponentially escalating BMI by the fact that I am also a wimp. Deep fat frying, along with anything to do with train tracks, sparklers and hamsters, is on my childhood danger list. Approach with caution and stand at a distance of at least three foot at all times.
Fortunately, Saunders is more gung ho about these things and I am easily persuaded. And it turns out that leftovers - specifically pumpkin risotto leftovers - are absolutely the best thing to deep fat fry as arancini. While vats of sizzling fat may not necessarily fit into the January ethos of restraint, the re-using of food that might otherwise be chucked in the bin definitely does.
Arancini are only a little bit fiddly, less so if you set up your pane station and buy in some panko breadcrumbs. We went for little chunks of mozzarella in the middle which didn't quite melt properly - I would either break it up a bit more next time or stir through the rice to ensure a good melt. Apparently you can also still be traditional if you fill the middle with peas or ragu but surely this only leads to disappointment? There is a reason why many deep fried things have a "melting cheese centre" rather than a "tepid pea middle", no?
We (Saunders) dutifully paned. Make the balls big. The novelty of flour-egg-breadcrumb stickiness wears off rather quickly no matter how carefully you stick to the "dry-hand, wet-hand" rules.
And the sizzle. Make them golden. And, if you are without a deep fat fryer, use a wok as it will need less oil to get the depth for coverage and has nice protective sides which make the whole experience less scary for the uninitiated. If you oven bake them, take a good look at yourself - this is missing the point.
There you go. High on the effort to results scale and, once you have knocked up the risotto the previous night and bought in some panko breadcrumbs (an essential for instant gratin action), requiring relatively few ingredients. Go on. You are statistically more likely to be hit by a train while teaching your hamster to use sparklers than to come to any harm while making arancini. Fact.
The Guardian has a edition of its "how to make the perfect" series on arancini. More sensible tips and suggestions that I am able to make and definitely more tried and tested.