One of Brandy's favorite flavor profiles is smokiness. She loves smokey whiskies and smoked meats, she even loves a wisp of smoke in her sweet treats like chocolate or caramel. "It's an underrated and often over done flavor," as she likes to say, "And artificial smoke is one of the worst atrocities that can ever be committed upon one's palette. The slightest hint of artificial smoke will put me off a dish quicker than a hair on the plate."
This is why when Brandy discovered that Amira Rice had launched a smoked variety of their signature basmati rice, she knew she had to get her hands on it. The smoked basmati rice is an exclusive Amira variety, only available in the U.S.
Opening the foil sealed bag, Brandy was greeted with a scent not unlike a roaring fire place. Not just smoke, but wood smoke met her nostrils, instantly filling her with a warm, happy sensation.
To get the most out of the unique smokey flavor of the rice, Brandy decided to pair it with an equally smokey cheese and turn it into arancini. She helped out the smoked flavor of the rice by cooking is in a little beef stock, as opposed to water, and she used an especially soft mozzarella for the filling, because low moisture smoked cheeses tend to not be quite as melty. As arancini is normally made with arborio rice (or specifically, left over risotto) which tends to be a bit more starchy, she quickly learned she had to be a little extra gentle with the formation of the rice balls, but once they were fried, they held together perfectly, had a nice crisp exterior, and a warm, soft interior.
1 cup of Smoked Amira Basmati Rice
2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
about 2/3 cup of smoked mozzarella, cubed
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
4 cups frying oil
Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stove top with the beef stock according to package instructions. Let the rice cool down slightly, then mix in eggs and parmesan cheese. Wetting hands before handling the rice, scoop up enough of the mixture to fill your palm, then place a cube of smoked mozzarella and form the rice over it into a ball about two inches big. The rice will not form a tight ball, so be gentle when forming the balls. Place the balls into the bread crumbs and lightly toss to coat.
Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Test to make sure the oil is hot enough by dropping in a grain of rice and watch to see if bubbles form around it. Carefully place rice balls into the oil (no more than 4 or 5 at a time) using a slotted spoon and let cook for about 5 minutes, or until the outside is golden brown. Remove from the oil and let drain on a paper towel.
Serve immediately with dipping sauces of your choice (marinara or yellow curry are great options). Makes about 16 rice balls.
The writers of this blog were sent products free of charge in order to facilitate the writing of this post.