Monday, July 06, 2009

July 4, 2009: Cheesy arancini with lemon mayonnaise

The next wintery recipe submitted to our giveaway turned up as an email rather than a comment - Megan sent us arancini with lemon mayonnaise. Stuffed with butter and two kinds of cheese, deep-fried and topped with that mayo, they provide immense short-term pleasure while probably taking a year or two off your life. In a bid to counteract the richness, I served them up with sauteed rainbow chard (so pretty! and not actually bitter!) and whole portobello mushrooms.

When I read that I'd be stuffing these risotto balls with cheese, crumbing and deep-frying them, I was prepared for trouble. This is exactly the kind of food I prefer to order from a cafe than cook for myself. I was astounded at how easily it all came together - the rice balls actually held their shape, and though the crumbing stages were messy, my arancini continued to hold their own in the bubbling oil. Nevertheless, they do take some effort - you'll need time and patience to pull these off unscathed.

It was actually the mayonnaise making, which I've done before, where I came unstuck. It just would. Not. EMULSIFY. I've previously learned that this can be a problem in humid conditions (see: the Potato Salad Incident of the Cairns Christmas in '06) but it seems unlikely to have been my problem here in dreary dry Melbourne. After some whinging and foot-stomping and declining Michael's suggestion that we "just use it as it is", I was about to dispose of my 'mayonnaise' when Michael suggested adding some cornflour. It seemed crazy and unlikely but why not try if it's getting tossed out anyway? A pinch of cornflour into the food processor did actually thicken up this mess of a mayonnaise, and we went ahead and poured it over the arancini. With a very acidic edge, it had just the flavour (if not texture) to complement that gooey, cheesy centre.

Pssst - if you're vegan and have made it this far through the post, have we got a reward for you! Coming very soon are recipes from a recent vegan dinner party, in three delicious installments.

Arancini with lemon mayonnaise
(halved and adapted slightly from a recipe sent by Megan, though it also appears on

1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and white pepper
dash of cayenne
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons boiling water

400mL vegetable stock
150g arborio rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
150g parmesan
50g mozzarella
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
30g butter
1/4 cup plain flour
1 egg white
100g breadcrumbs
oil for deep-frying

In a food processor, thoroughly blend together the egg yolk, mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne. With the blade still going, slowly pour in the oil, cross your fingers, and hopefully the mayonnaise will thicken. Add a pinch of cornflour if you are absolutely desperate. Blend in the lemon juice and boiling water, then refrigerate the mayonnaise.

Bring the stock to the boil in a medium saucepan, then add the rice, salt and pepper. Bring it all back up to the boil, then simmer the lot for 15 minutes. Set it aside to cool.

Grate half of the parmesan, then stir it and the parsley through the cooled rice.

Slice the remaining parmesan, mozzarella and butter into 8 cubes each. Lightly squish one parmesan, one mozzarella and one butter cube together. Spoon out roughly an eighth of the rice mixture and form it into a ball around the cheese glob. Put it on a plate and and repeat the process to make 7 more arancini.

Set the flour, egg white and breadcrumbs out in shallow bowls. Dredge the balls in turn through the flour, then the egg white, then the breadcrumbs.

Heat the vegetable oil at least an inch deep in a saucepan. Deep-fry the arancini in small batches until golden, shifting them around with tongs for even cooking. Rest them on absorbent paper until they're all ready.

Serve the arancini with the lemon mayonnaise poured over or on the side as a dipping sauce.


  1. oh yum! I love arancini but as you say, I prefer to buy than faff about making it. But this recipe is tempting

    I haven't tried mayonnaise but will try and remember the cornflour trick - it makes sense because when making cakes I have been told if the egg curdles when mixed with a creamed butter and sugar mix then you put a spoonful of flour in to make it smooth!

  2. Oh sure, that looks great. But cut to the artichoke dippy thing already! ;)

  3. Interesting, Johanna - after it kind of worked, we went on a little internet search. No-one else appears to have reported success with this approach! But a curdled egg for a cake seems like a related problem.

    Thanks, Lisa - it's up now. ;-)