Isle of Wight Tomato and Saffron Risotto, with Arancini the next day

Two recipes in one

How to make the perfect risotto and bring a taste of Italy a little closer with the addition of this brilliant street food recipe for the following day.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 30 mins

You’ll need

For the risotto – serve half the finished risotto, reserving at least 1.25kg to make arancini the next day.

900g Isle of Wight beefsteak or plum tomatoes, peeled if you like, any tough core removed, flesh and seeds roughly diced

5 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

4 tbsp. olive oil

175ml dry white wine

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced

Sprig of fresh thyme, leaves picked

Pinch of saffron, steeped in 2 tbsp. of boiling water

750g risotto rice

1.4lt hot chicken or vegetable stock

100g freshly grated parmesan

50g unsalted butter

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

What to do

If peeling the tomatoes, have a large pan of boiling water ready, slash each of the tomatoes with a sharp knife and plunge into the boiling water for 10 seconds, removing with a slotted spoon and putting to one side until cool enough to handle. The skin should slip off easily. If not, plunge in boiling water for 5 seconds more. Work in batches if necessary. Remove any tough core from the tomatoes and roughly dice the tomatoes, flesh, seeds and all.

To make the risotto use a large saucepan over a moderate heat to cook the shallots in the oil for 3 minutes, to soften but not colour. Add the garlic and thyme leaves. Add the rice and stir briskly for a minute. The rice grains will go slightly milky and translucent at the edges.

Add the glass of wine, saffron and the soaking water and stir rapidly until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add the tomatoes and a tsp of salt and stir well for a minute more. Reduce the heat to moderate – low. Add the stock, one ladleful at a time, ensuring each ladleful is absorbed into the rice before adding more. You should need to use all the stock, but risotto rice grains do vary in absorbency, so after around 15 minutes of cooking time taste the rice to check if it’s ready.

After this time, you should be nearing the rice being adequately cooked, tender but with a slight bite to the very centre of each grain, if not, continue cooking for 2 – 3 minutes more.

To finish the risotto, it must rest sufficiently. Add the butter and half the parmesan, season well with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, cover and set to one side for 5 minutes before serving.

Perfect risotto consistency is a creamy, soupy mass, one that glides across a plate if tilted. It should never be starchy or clump together in a tight mass. Serve immediately at the table with the remaining parmesan.

To make the arancini

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 15 mins

Cooking time: 20 mins

Makes approx.10 arancini – using the reserved 1.25kg cooked risotto.

10 small cherry sized mozzarella balls, such as ciliegine or use bocconcini

5tbsp plain flour to dust

4 eggs, beaten

300g dry breadcrumbs or use panko

Neutral oil, to fry

30g parmesan, freshly grated, to serve

Lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

What to do

Using wet hands take clementine sized handfuls of the rice and compress into a ball shape. Insert your thumb into the centre and place a piece of mozzarella into the space. Cover the mozzarella, compressing the rice into a uniform ball shape.

Repeat until you have used up all the risotto mix. Rest the shaped risotto balls on a large plate.

Have the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs separate and ready on 3 large plates.

Gently roll each of the risotto balls first in the flour, then the beaten eggs and finally the breadcrumbs, compressing and compacting as much of the breadcrumb mix as you can onto the surface of the risotto ball. Work in batches until all the risotto balls have been floured, egged and breadcrumbed. Repeat the process, coating each arancini again first in the flour, then the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Use a deep-sided saucepan and fill 1/3 of the pan with oil, never fill the pan with more oil than this as it will bubble up. Heat to a temperature of 180° A digital thermometer is best to test if the temperature is hot enough to deep fry, alternatively, drop a thin slice of ginger or a cube of bread into the oil and if it floats and sizzles to the top within 60 seconds, the oil is at a good temperature to deep fry.

Work in batches, carefully deep frying 2 or 3 arancini at a time, more and you will reduce the oil temperature too much, fry for around 3 – 5 minutes until golden brown and very crisp. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on the tray in the oven to continue heating through whilst you fry the remaining arancini, about 8 minutes in the oven should ensure the arancini are hot through and the mozzarella is beginning to melt.

With the arancini all cooked and hot through, serve dusted with the grated parmesan and lemon wedges.

Recipe courtesy of The Tomato Stall

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Melina - Assistant Editor

Hi I'm Melina, a mother of 3 teenage children and with a particular interest in all things health related. I run a busy household and smallholding alongside my work with Silversurfers, which currently includes dogs, fish, hens, ducks and pigs!

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