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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Horde Original - Arancini Light. Italian Rice Balls reworked

I don't know if any of you have tried Arancini but they are spectacular.  Italian appetizers.  Basically a deep fried rice ball stuffed with proscuitto and such.    In Sicily they also have peas in them but I've never had that version.

You may or not know but I quit smoking in January (YAY ME).  I'm sure if you are a reader of this blog you will notice I'm not exactly a calorie counter.  I never really have had to be but turning 40 and now quitting smoking has put me into a position where I need to lose some of that middle age, quit smoking weight gain.  

The truth is you can reduce the calorie/fat intake of alot of food with some simple adjustments that don't affect flavour that much.  I'm sure there is more I can do to make this a super skinny choice but I'm me and I still need that deep flavour of non "light" versions of ingredients.

This brings us to arancini.  This is an insanely labour intensive dish when made the traditional way.  It would take me all day and is wicked heavy on the calories.     I killed two birds with one stone yesterday playing in the kitchen.

A light version of Arancini that takes significantly less time to make.   I wanted to try working this into a casserole to reduce the work but at the same time be lighter and tasty.

It worked.  The kids LOVED it.  My husband who doesn't actually like Arangini loved it!   It was filling and oh so good.  Without further adieu.  It's a little sideways from traditional Arangini but tastes delish.

Start with cooking approximately 5 cups of rice (you would be safe with 6). I used brown rice as opposed to the traitional white sticky rice.

You will also need a couple cups of shredded light mozzarella cheese,  grated pecorino, grated parmagaen, finely shredded asiago cheese, and bread crumbs

While the rice is cooking, prepare the meat mixture.
1.5 lbs of ground chicken
approx 10 leaves of fresh basil, chopped finely.
1 cup finely grated asiago cheese
1 cup of lean pancetta cut into small pieces
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/4 cup pecorino cheese grated
1/4 cup parmagaen cheese grated
2-3 chopped tomatoes

In a skillet, brown ground chicken with garlic.  Set aside in a large metal bowl.  In the same skillet brown the chopped pancetta until a little crispy.  Combine with chicken.   Add the basil and cheeses and combine well.  Add tomatoes and mix well. Set aside until rice mixture is ready.


Rice Mixture.
5-6 cups of prepared brown rice
1/3 cup egg whites
1/4 cup pecorino cheese
1/4 cup parmagean
1 cup shredded "light" mozzarella cheese. (skim milk mozza)

Combine all the ingredients well.

Layer bottom of casserole dish (9 x 13) with parchment paper or spray well with Pam.   Using half the rice mixture make a layer along the bottom of the dish. Press Mixture down.   

Add a thin layer of shredded mozza cheese.  Next pour the meat mixture and layer it evenly.   Again place a thin layer over the meat mixture.

Take the other half of the rice mixture and again layer that on top of the meat/cheese layer, pressing down again. 

Sprinkle mozza cheese, and a  little of the grated cheeses over the entire mixture.  Lightly sprinkle evenly, about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs over the final layer.

Bake at 350 degrees F for approx 45 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. 

A little bit of work but not nearly as much as the traditional dish.  Calories are reduced significantly as a result of no deep frying.

Give it a try and let me know how it turns out.  Always open to suggestions and tweeking.

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