This is another fabulous finger food that can be prepared in advance and easily reheated at the last minute for a passed appetizer. We also make a larger version of the same cakes and use it as the base for a vegetarian entree, served with assorted vegetables.
The inspiration for this recipe are the savory rice balls of Sicily known as arancine, or "little oranges", due to their shape and orange-hued crust. Traditionally they are filled with meat or cheese and eaten as a snack in bars and cafes all over Sicily. Any type of risotto can be used and it's also a great way to use leftover risotto you might have from a dinner party.
Here's what you'll need:
4 cups mushroom, chicken or vegetable stock
3 cups mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely diced onion
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
1 cup bread crumbs or panko
Vegetable or light olive oil for frying
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Heat the stock. In a separate sauce pan heat the olive oil and butter, add the finely diced onion and over moderate heat cook until they are translucent. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking over moderate heat. Add the white wine and keep stirring until the mushrooms give up their liquid and get reabsorbed into the mix.
2. Add the rice to the mushroom onion mix, season with salt and pepper and stir to coat the rice completely. Begin ladling in the warm stock 1/2 cup at a time stirring and making sure the liquid has been absorbed before adding more. Rice varies so you may need more or less liquid. Unlike a traditional risotto, cook until the rice is soft and creamy all the way through, about 25-30 minutes.
3. Turn the mixture out into a bowl adding the grated cheese. When cool enough to handle, add the egg, mix well and do a test. Form a small ball of rice into a patty, press into the bread crumbs and gently saute in a small pan with a bit of oil. If you are pleased with the result, (texture, flavor etc) continue making balls. If not add more salt or cheese before making the entire batch.
4. Once all of the mini cakes have been made and pressed into the bread crumbs they can be refrigerated or even frozen until ready to cook. Fry the cakes in a small amount of oil (a non-stick pan is best for this), blot on a paper towel and serve on a platter. The risotto cakes can also be fried ahead of time and rewarmed in the oven. We like to garnish them with a bit of shaved Parmesan.