I just can’t resist that gorgeous fuchsia hue of beets. It’s the perfect pink, I think. It’s not demure, or babyish. It’s outspoken. Assertive. Confident.
I also happen to love the sweet, earthy flavor of beets. So when I saw that beets were one of the four ingredients I had to work with for McCormick’s Go 4 Gourmet campaign
I was, well, tickled (pink).
The other three ingredients? Crushed rosemary, balsamic vinegar, and Arborio rice.
As soon as the rice came into the picture, I knew what I had to do. Arancini! You all know I love me some cheese-stuffed, breaded and fried rice balls. I fell in love with the real thing in Sicily. I’ve made them NOLA style with jambalaya before. And now, I’m going to turn them pink! Bright, show-stopping, pink.
I’ve turned other things pink before with great success. My favorite beet pasta gets it done by incorporating a roasted beet puree, so that’s where I’ll start.
The puree method worked like a charm with my risotto. I threw in some of that piney crushed rosemary, and between the earthiness of the beets and the woodsy-ness of the herbs, things were starting to taste like a nature walk…in a good way. It was good, but tasted a little one dimensional. A few splashes of balsamic in the mix gave it the kick of acidity it needed.
For my stuffing, I had to go with a fresh chevre. There is a reason why goat cheese and beets are a classic pairing. Don’t mess with success. In the arancini the cheese was like a little surprise burst of creamy decadence. Who wouldn’t like that?
An elegant drizzle of balsamic glaze finished it off.
This isn’t the simplest or quickest recipe I’ve ever made, but it sure is impressive. As you can see, the recipe has a lot of steps. Don’t be scared! It becomes infinitely more manageable if you do some of the legwork ahead of time. Lots of tips on efficiency and make-ahead notes in the recipe below, and here’s a slideshow with the blow by blow:
Traditional Italian arancini get an eye-catching makeover with a vibrant roasted beet puree. Fragrant crushed rosemary brings out the sweet earthiness of the beets, and a tangy goat cheese center gives a burst of creamy decadence. A drizzle of balsamic reduction tops it off on a bright note!
- 1 large beet (approx 1 lb)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 32 ounces chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ onion, finely diced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- 3 ounces fresh chevre goat cheese, cold
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 T brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 450 F. Rinse the beet and trim off the greens (you can save them for later, beet greens are delicious sautéed with some garlic and olive oil). Wrap the beet in foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour. You should be able to easily pierce the beet through with a knife. Let it cool. When the beet is cool enough to handle, peel the skin off. It should come off easily. (Pro Tip: Peel the beet in a bowl of water, or under running water to minimize mess).
- Cut the beet into chunks and place into a food processor or blender. Add the olive oil. Puree until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides and add a bit of water to loosen it up. Season with salt, to taste.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer. Keep at a simmer the entire time the risotto cooks.
- In a medium-sized sauté pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until softened, about 6-8 minutes. Lower the heat a bit and add the rice. Cook until the rice is lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the white wine and allow it to evaporate and absorb into the rice. Add the warm chicken stock one ladle at a time, allowing it to absorb into the rice each time before adding the next ladle. Stir frequently to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. (Pro Tip: A flat-edged wooden spoon works best. For the most even stirring, methodically stir in a figure eight motion drawing the spoon down the center of the pan, up around the left edge of the pan, down the center, and up around the right edge).
- Continue adding stock and stirring until the risotto is almost done, but not quite. It will look creamy, but the texture will still be too al dente. Add the beet puree, 2 teaspoons of balsamic, and rosemary. Keep stirring until the risotto is done – creamy and soft, with a nice al dente chew to it. From start to finish, it should take about 30 minutes to cook the risotto.
- Spread the risotto onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet to cool.
- Set up your breading station with separate bowls for the flour, eggs, and panko.
- Next, you’re going to form balls of rice stuffed with pieces of goat cheese. I’ve found that the most efficient way to do this is in batch motions. First, using a 1.5-tablespoon cookie scoop for uniformity, I divide up all of the risotto. You now have a tray of golf-ball sized mounds.
- Make an indentation in the center of each mound, and press in a piece of cheese.
- Take each mound and roll it into a ball, encasing the cheese completely so you cannot see it. If it is too sticky, try wetting your hands with water.
- Now do your 3-step breading. Gently roll the balls first in the flour, then in the eggs, and finally in the panko, shaking off excess after each coating. (Pro-tip: Use one hand for flouring, the other for egging, so you don’t end up breading your fingers).
- To fry, pour enough vegetable oil to fill about 2-3 inches in a saucepan. Heat to 350 degrees and try to maintain throughout frying. Carefully fry 3 to 4 arancini at a time, flipping them until they are golden brown on all sides. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined sheet pan. Serve while hot with balsamic glaze.
- Combine the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a bowl, then lower heat to low and let simmer until reduced to a syrupy consistency. Stir every once in a while. It should be thick enough to coat your spoon. Makes about ½ cup.
Make Ahead: This recipe has a lot of steps, but it becomes infinitely more manageable if you do some of the legwork ahead of time. You can roast off and puree the beets up to a few days in advance. You can even make the risotto a day in advance, it’ll actually be easier to work with after it is thoroughly chilled. As for frying, you can fry up a few hours ahead of time, let sit at room temp, then reheat/recrisp in the oven at 350F before serving).
Recipe Source: LickMySpoon.com.
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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by McCormick & Co.