Citrus Arancine with Pecorino Cheese

These deep-fried rice balls hail from Sicily. Arancine are often made with leftover risotto, but this recipe—from Decatur, Georgia's Cakes & Ale, one of our Top Ten Restaurants in America—calls for freshly made risotto. A piece of cheese is tucked into the rice mixture, then the rice balls are breaded and fried until golden. To learn how to make Arancine, see our Test Kitchen's How to Shape Arancine tip.


September 2009


  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 2 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 4 1/2 cups to 5 cups low-salt chicken broth, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fennel pollen* or freshly ground fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
  • 3/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime peel
  • 30 (about) 1/2-inch cubes Brinata, Etorki, or other young sheep's-milk cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread
  • 6 cups vegetable oil (about; for deep-frying)
  • Orange, lemon, and/or lime wedges (optional)


  • Melt butter with oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add rice, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, and stir until rice starts to become translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and cook until absorbed, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup broth and simmer, stirring often, until absorbed, about 3 minutes. Continue to add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, until risotto is creamy and rice is tender, stirring often and allowing broth to be absorbed each time before adding more, about 25 minutes total.
  • Remove risotto from heat. Mix in fennel pollen and all citrus peels. Season with pepper and more salt, if desired. Spread risotto out on large rimmed baking sheet and cool completely, about 1 hour.
  • Place cheese in small bowl. Beat eggs and milk in medium bowl. Place panko in another medium bowl. Using wet hands, shape 1 heaping tablespoonful risotto into ball; enclose 1 cheese cube in rice. Dip rice ball into egg mixture, then into crumbs to coat. Place on clean rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining risotto, cheese, and coating. Cover with plastic wrap and chill on sheet at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.
  • Preheat oven to 300°F. Place large rimmed baking sheet in oven. Pour enough oil into heavy large saucepan to reach depth of 1 1/2 inches. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pan. Heat oil over medium-high heat to 340°F to 350°F. Add 4 to 5 arancine at a time; fry until golden brown and crisp, adjusting heat to maintain temperature, about 5 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet in oven to keep warm.
  • Mound arancine on platter. Garnish with citrus wedges, if desired, and serve hot.
  • INGREDIENT TIP: This recipe calls for Brinata or Etorki cheese. Brinata is a specific kind of pecorino fresco, a fresh sheep's-mik cheese that is milder in taste and softer than Pecorino Toscano or Pecorino Romano. Look for pecorino fresco at your local cheese shop or buy it online from Etorki is a sheep's-milk cheese from the Basque region of France. It has a soft texture and a sweet, delicate flavor. Etorki is available at cheese shops and online from