Holiday Arancini Rice Balls

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Denise Gianatasio is a Northport Village resident and freelance writer. She is a licenced agent at Signature Premier
Properties, Platinum Circle of Excellence, 172 Main Street, Northport 631-754-3600. Denise enjoys cooking and sharing her recipes and family stories, as she wants to inspire a warm sense of home with her readers. Please feel free to contact her for any advice you may need at dishinwithdenise@yahoo.com.

Each season brings a new opportunity to create or reinvent your style and traditions. This is one recipe that needs no change!
    Just one bite and you too will know exactly why I have continued to send out this beloved family recipe to you each year to inspire you at “Christmastime!”  
    
Meat sauce or Bolognese (you can make this ahead of time and refrigerate for days until ready) 

1 ½ lbs. ground beef and sausage meat (if desired)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 chopped Vidalia onion 
1 14 oz can San Marzano whole tomatoes blended 
1 6 oz can of tomato paste 
½ t red pepper flakes
Salt and fresh black pepper
Fresh basil (4 –5 leaves chopped)
Pinch of oregano
Frozen small tender baby peas 1 ½ cups or as desired
1lb fresh mozzarella cheese cut into small chunks

Brown onion and meat in a skillet until brown and crumbly. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and paste; cook on low stirring occasionally. The sauce should be thick and dense. Cool. Then add frozen peas.

For The Rice: 
6 cups low sodium chicken broth 
2 T extra virgin olive oil 
1 pinch of saffron (if desired)
3 cups white rice (I use Carolina long grain or Arborio)
4 large eggs separated (or more if needed)
2 ½ cups of grated cheese (Locatelli Romano)
1T butter

To coat balls for frying:
4 egg whites beaten with a splash of cold water
2 cups flour 
2 cups Italian flavored bread crumbs 
Deep fryer with vegetable oil for frying
Salt to taste

    Bring the broth and butter to a boil. Add the rice, bring back to boil then lower to simmer. Stir constantly, if it
becomes too dry, add a bit more broth or water. Cook until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender but a bit “al dente.” Mix in cheese, the yellow beaten eggs, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until cool (you can do a day or two in advance). Sometimes if I have leftover, I add a tiny bit of marinara to the rice for color and flavor. 
    Scoop rice into hand, make an opening or a well and stuff 1 ½ t of meat sauce and peas into the center with a small chunk of fresh mozzarella cheese. Close back up by rolling gently into a ball with both hands. Roll into the flour on all sides, then roll into beaten egg white, and finally into breadcrumbs; constantly shaping and rolling between your hands. You may have to wash hands in-between rolling a few times. Place on a flat cookie sheet until ready for frying. You can fry 5-6 at one time until golden (approx. 4-5 minutes). Drain on paper towel,  sprinkle a bit of salt. You’ll be lucky if you have any leftover! 
Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday’s, Happy New Year, and Peace on Earth!  xoxo Denise