Remember how excited I was last week to eat red beans and rice in New Orleans? Well, I got there are did indeed eat plenty. In fact, on Monday I found myself at Pableaux Johnson’s house with a bunch of other food writers chowing down on the best red beans I’ve ever had. Apparently, it’s a bit of a thing. Pableaux’s version cooks a lot longer than mine and he throws the sausage in with the beans as they cook, which I will also do from now on.
But now I’m back home and when I got here I was hungry. The only thing in the fridge was a lot of leftover rice from my pre-NOLA rice-bean feast. I thought about fried rice but quickly got bored with the idea when arancini popped into my head.
Arancini are Italian fried balls of rice that can be stuffed with meat or cheese or just about anything, for that matter. Usually they are made with arborio rice, the stuff used for risotto. But the rice I had in the fridge was regular-old long grain. Even so, I wanted to give it a shot. I added some egg to bind everything together, tossed in peas from the freezer and a little bacon. To date it is the best use of leftover, cooked rice.
Makes about 12
3 slices bacon, chopped
4 cups cooked rice
3/4 cup frozen baby peas
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus additional for sprinkling
3 large eggs
1 cup fine dried breadcrumbs
About 4 cups vegetable oil
Cook bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer bacon to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add rice, peas, 1/2 cup cheese, 1 egg and yolks from the remaining 2 eggs (reserve the whites in another bowl). Mix ingredients together with your hands, then squeeze into about 12 (2-inch) balls. Beat reserved egg whites with a fork, then dip each ball in egg whites and roll in breadcrumbs.
Heat oil in a medium pot to 350°F. Fry arancini in batches until browned, 5 to 7 minutes per batch, then transfer to paper towels to drain. Bring oil back to 350°F between batches. Serve arancini with additional Parmesan.