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Baked Butternut Squash Arancini

aranciniWhat’s not to love about the addictive Italian bar snack, Arancini?  Literally translated to “little oranges,” the crispy, golden rice balls boast a melting exterior of creamy Arborio or leftover Risotto, often studded with savory ingredients, like Prosciutto, Peas or Cheese.  But you’d hardly call Arancini health food, and who really wants to make them at home?  Deep-frying tends to smoke up our tiny apartment kitchen in seconds flat, and splatter it with grease.

That’s why we’ve developed this oven-baked Arancini recipe, which thankfully cuts down on the mess, fuss, and fat.  Since it’s winter, we’re using Butternut Squash Risotto for our “little oranges,” but once you’ve got the method down, you can experiment with whatever fillings you’d like!

Baked Butternut Squash Arancini
(Makes about 25)

6-8 cups of chicken broth
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups of butternut squash, peeled and finely diced
2 cups of arborio rice
1 cup of dry white wine
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of chopped chives
Salt to taste
3 egg yolks
1 cup of flour
2 cups of seasoned breadcrumbs
3 egg whites beaten with 1 teaspoon of warm water
Canola oil for frying

Heat broth in a medium sized saucepan and keep warm over low heat.  Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan, and add the onion and butternut squash.  Cook over medium heat until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add rice and cook for 2 minutes.  Add wine and cook, stirring constantly until wine has been absorbed by the rice.  Add a few ladles of broth, just enough to barely cover the rice.  Cook over medium heat until broth has been absorbed.  Continue cooking and stirring rice, adding a little bit of broth at a time, cooking and stirring until it is absorbed, until the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite, about 15 to 20 minutes.

During the last minutes of cooking, add remaining tablespoon of butter, Parmesan, and chives.  At this point the rice should have a creamy consistency.  Add salt to taste.  Transfer the rice to a large shallow bowl and cool, stirring often, until the risotto is room temperature.  Mix in the egg yolks.

Heat an oven to 375.  Take approximately 2 tablespoons of cold risotto in your palm and roll into a ball.  Dip the ball into flour, shaking lightly to remove any clumps, then into the beaten eggs, and finally, roll the ball in the breadcrumbs.  Place the coated ball onto a baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining risotto until all of the risotto is used. Spray the arancini with olive oil to coat.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

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