$5 Friday: Arancini balls (aka poo poo balls)

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Sometimes I like to cook things to amuse my young boys.  Occasionally they tell me they want to eat poo poo for dinner.  It is a bit of a joke.  But I like to oblige with foods that actually look like they do.

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They squirm and they laugh and we have so much fun.  But they actually eat dinner, which doesn’t always happen.  One of the best meals of the toilet humour kind is fried arancini balls, aka leftover risotto fry up, aka poo poo balls.

Big A is an extremely fussy eater.  EXTREMELY.  As a food blogger and writer, it breaks my heart that he won’t eat many interesting things.  And he prefers frozen pizza over my homemade kind (!).  Still, I persevere. I hope that somehow an understanding of food seeping in somehow.  Recently he told me that he aspires to open a ‘fancy dish cafe’ with his brother.  They will serve open all day and all night, and serve any dish that people want.  Even McDonalds.  Hmmm.  Not quite sure if that mix would work, but who knows.

Sweet corn risotto
Sweet corn risotto

One of the few things that Big A will eat is risotto.  Not a fancy risotto with white wine, garlic and lashings of parmesan cheese, but rather a very simple risotto made with butter and cooked until it is really, really soft.  I make double quantity and we eat it again the next day.  But often it doesn’t taste quite as good as leftovers because the rice goes a little harder.  That is when making arancini makes leftovers more exciting.

Now I realise this probably not a gourmet version of arancini, but it is one that my kids will actually eat.  Which to me is priceless.  And it even has vegetables in it, which is a bonus.  Try this next time you want to have fun with toilet talk. Or serve it for a party or for a Christmas gathering – I have made them for functions at work and they are a big hit.

P.S. If you have noticed I have been a bit quiet lately, in part this is because I have been a lot more active on The Riot-ACT.  Oh, and I am selling my house. Yes, just after paying off the mortgage on it.  A long story, deserving of another blog post.  But I haven’t forgotten my blog readers, and I have a long list of blog posts I plan to put out in coming weeks.

Ingredients

2 chicken drumsticks
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup frozen (or even better, fresh) corn
salt and pepper
Cheddar cheese or mozzarella cubes, around 100g
2 eggs
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup plain flour

(Note: I shouldn’t say this as I suspect that I will offend many purist Italian cooks and food bloggers. But if your budget is really tight, you could substitute Australian grown medium white rice.  The grains are not as big as arborio, but they are still fat and the quality is excellent.  It will do a half decent job of a risotto.)

Method

  1. Remove the flesh from the chicken drumsticks.  Reserve and use for another dish. Boil the bones in water for an hour or so. I often add a slice of ginger (optional).  Add salt to taste.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter and add the rice.  Stir with a wooden spoon and cook for a few minutes until the rice is fully coated by the butter and is glossy. You don’t want the rice to go as far as becoming golden brown.
  3. Add the chicken stock in ladles.  It is important that the chicken stock is hot.  Keep stirring the risotto mixture and add the hot soup as needed.
  4. After around 15 minutes, add in the sweet corn.  Continue to cook until the rice is very soft.  Serve immediately if eating for dinner, or reserve until cooled.
  5. The next day (or when the rice has cooled), prepare the rice.  For say three cups of cooked risotto rice, add one small beaten egg.  Or omit this if the rice will stick together fine; mine did so I didn’t need an egg.
  6. Set out three bowls.  Add a beaten egg into one, the flour into a second one,and the breadcrumbs into the third.
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  7. Meanwhile, cut the cheese into small cubes of between 1cm and 1.5cm. Mozzarella is ideal because it will create a lovely, stringy cheese trail when you bite into it.  But for a family meal cheddar cheese is fine if that is what you have.
  8. Take a generous tablespoon of risotto rice into one hand, flatten it, put a piece of cheese inside it, then wrap it to close.
  9. Dip the rice ball into flour, then shake to remove excess flour.  Then dip in the egg wash, before dipping in the breadcrumbs to coat.

    Arancini balls ready to cook
    Arancini balls ready to cook
  10. Fry in hot oil (I find a wok works extremely well for this).  Serve while still hot.  You could serve with fancy dipping sauces, but really it is so yum as it is why mess with it?

    Frying arancini balls in hot oil in a wok
    Frying – I find a wok works well

Based on Aldi prices:

Chicken drumsticks: 60c
Butter: 15c
Arborio rice: $1
Corn 30c
Cheese 70c
Eggs 50c
Breadcrumbs – homemade from leftovers, free
Flour 10c

Total:  $3.35

A child eating a cheese filled arancini ball
Little A really enjoys the poo poo balls
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