So I got to do something pretty cool last weekend. Udi’s, the people who make gluten-free breads, pastries, sweet treats, and other replacements for those of us intolerants, invited me to a cooking class here in Los Angeles. I don’t know why they might have thought I needed some boning up on my cooking, but I was STOKED. I learned some super cool knife skills and an easy way to chop an onion. I feel much more badass in the kitchen now.
Yes, that sign above is everything we made in an afternoon at Cook LA and all of that magnificence is gluten-free, you guys. Also, it was made by pros. Or rather Cook LA pros Chef Liz Alexanian and Chef Adam Brooks, me, some Udi’s employees, a couple other awesome bloggers, and Jackie, an Udi’s recipe winner who actually did have mad skillz, as she WON A CONTEST. I worked with the lovely Suzanne of Udi’s to churn out these Toasted Pistachio-Cheese Arancini Balls.
Oh to the em gee, everybody, these were amazing. Even though I did totally mess up by forgetting to double the recipe because I was way too busy chatting with all of the other lovely people. I got way too excited as I usually cook, alone, in my kitchen, talking to my dog. So I got distracted and jacked up the risotto a bit. Here I am saying, “I am such a dumbass!”
Yet, those balls turned out quite well, if I do say so my own bad self. I’m totally stoked I now have a gluten-free recipe for those things, because it makes me so sad when I’m in an Italian restaurant and I can’t order the rice balls. You’re feeling for me right now, aren’t you? The plight of the ball-less GF’er. Michael Moore should make a documentary about the injustice of it all.
While we baked these balls in the oven on 350 until they were toasty brown (and then eliminated the step where you roll the rice balls in flour), this recipe calls for frying. If you’re concerned about making these healthier, simply bake ‘em up. Otherwise deep fry those bad boys. Udi’s will have all of these delish recipes up on their site any second now, but in the meantime here’s how you can do what I did!
Gluten-Free Toasted Pistachio-Cheese Arancini
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 35 minutes, total
2 Tablespoons + 1/2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth, warmed
3 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 Tablespoon multi-purpose Gluten Free King Arthur’s flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons milk
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, finely diced
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons salted pistachios, chopped, salted
2 Tablespoons frozen baby peas, thawed
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups Udi’s White Bread, toasted, processed into crumbs
Canola oil, for frying
1. In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 7 minutes.
2. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until well coated with butter. Add the white wine and saffron, season with salt and black pepper and cook, stirring, until the wine is absorbed, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the warm chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time and cook, stirring constantly between additions, until it is absorbed. The risotto is done when the rice is al dente, about 25 minutes total. Stir in the grated cheese, transfer to a bowl and let cool.
4. To make the pistachio filling, melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan. Add the 1/2 tablespoon of flour and whisk constantly over moderate heat for 1 minute.
5. Add the milk and cook, whisking, until thickened. Season with the nutmeg, salt, and black pepper and transfer to a bowl to cool completely. Stir in the mozzarella, pistachios and peas.
6. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the eggs, bread crumbs, and flour for dusting in 3 separate shallow bowls.
7. Using lightly moistened hands, shape the rice mixture into 16 equal balls. Working with one ball at a time, make an indentation in the center with your finger and press the sides to make the hollow larger. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the pistachio filling into the hollow and press the risotto around the filling to enclose it.
8. Transfer the ball to the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining risotto and filling.
9. Dust the arancini with flour, tapping off the excess. Coat them with the egg and roll in the Udi’s bread crumbs from the white bread.
10. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 350 degrees. Fry the arancini over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until golden and heated through, 8 minutes. Drain the arancini on paper towels and serve hot.
Makes: 16 servings