Decadent recipe for cheesy Saffron Arancini


For the saffron risotto:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
50g chorizo sausage, roughly chopped into small pieces (almost like mince)
1 shallot, finely diced
1 leek washed, halved and finely diced
2 stems fresh thyme, de-stalked
zest of half a lemon
1 cup arborio rice
80ml white wine
1 litre chicken stock (hot)
a good pinch of saffron threads or ¼ teaspoon saffron powder
⅓ cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the arancini:
100g mozzarella, cut into 1 cm cubes
2 -3 eggs, lightly whisked
½ cup flour
⅓ cup dried breadcrumbs
1 cup crushed panko crumbs
1 litre vegetable oil, for frying

How to
Heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepan. Add the chorizo and cook for several minutes until the red oils are rendered out. Remove and set aside.

Pour the stock into a separate saucepan, add the saffron threads and place on a heat source to keep hot.

Sauté the shallot until softened but not coloured. Add the leeks and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the thyme and lemon zest.

Add the rice and stir through to coat in the buttery oils. Allow the rice to toast for about a minute.

Deglaze the pan with the wine and reduce by half.

Now add the hot chicken stock, one ladle at a time allowing the rice to absorb the stock before adding the next ladle.

Continue stirring all the while. This agitates the rice and releases the starch and results in a creamy risotto.

Once all the stock is used up the risotto should be al dente. Cooking time is between 22-25 minutes. If the rice is not yet cooked, add a little extra water.

Finally, add the chorizo, parmesan and 2 tablespoons butter. Season with black pepper.
Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
To make the arancini, combine the breadcrumbs and panko crumbs. Place the eggs, flour and crumbs into three separate bowls.

Scoop generous tablespoon amounts of cold risotto in the palm of your hand. Flatten out slightly and place a piece of mozzarella in each. Close and roll into a ball. Repeat until you’ve used all the risotto mixture.

Pour the oil into a saucepan and bring up to 180º C.

Dredge the arancini in flour, followed by the egg and then in the breadcrumb mixture.

Carefully lower into the oil and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until golden underneath. Turn over and cook for another 3 minutes.

Drain on paper towels and eat while still warm and the cheese is molten inside.

Recipe provided by Bibby’s Kitchen @ 36, a food blog by Dianne Bibby. For more details on monthly cooking classes hosted in Johannesburg, email

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