Don’t you absolutely love getting a delivery? I do! The kind folk at Healey’s Cheesery and Waterkloof Wines sent me a great big wedge of their Healey’s Noble Slow Matured Cheddar. Healey’s is now situated at the lovely Waterkloof Wine estate. I’ve been lucky enough to sample Healey’s Mature Cheddar on several occasions & it’s been marked on my cheese list (yes, I have a cheese list) as one of my favourites for a while now. I’ve never cooked with it before, so I was interested to see how it would stand up to the heat of the kitchen. But then again, a product that has followed the same recipe for the past 150 years & is made by hand using Friesian milk, must be good.
The cheddar has a earthy, sweet, nutty flavour about it & with any good mature cheddar, a wonderfully crumbly & slightly crystalized texture to it (I deserve my own cheese column in a national paper with all the impressive cheese phrases I’m throwing around). I required a dish I knew would capture the height of cheese appeal & contrast in varying textures… Arancini. It had to be Arancini.
I made my risotto the old fashioned way (hello wooden spoon & a great arm workout). But there was a twist. I wanted maximum crunch factor. Something that would make that cheesy rice really stand out. That twist came in the form of Panko breadcrumbs – extra crunch, guarenteed.
Here’s what I used & how I did it…
4 tbsp (60ml) olive oil
3 large spring onions, sliced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup of white wine
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
2L hot stock (of your choice)
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 large handfuls of grated Healey’s Mature Cheddar Cheese
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup of cake flour
4 eggs, beaten
2-3 cups of Panko bread crumbs
Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the spring onions & fry for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the Arborio rice & coat well in the oil, followed by the wine. Stir until all of the wine has evaporated then add the fresh thyme leaves to the pan. Lower the heat slightly & start to add a ladle of hot stock at ta time, stirring well for a few minutes between each ladle.
(The stirring is what helps the rice release it’s starch, resulting in a creamy & rather dreamy risotto).
Keep stirring until all of the stock has been used & the rice is plump, creamy & cooked through. (At this stage, the rice should be cooked but still retain a bite). Season the risotto with sea salt & freshly ground black pepper & add the Healey’s Mature Cheddar. Give a final stir, adjust the seasoning & set aside to cool. Once cooled, transfer the rice to a Tupperware container & place in the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours.
Once the risotto is cold, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Place the flour, eggs & Panko crumbs in separate bowls. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop portions of rice & use your hands to shape the rice into balls. Coat in flour, then egg & finally, in the Panko crumbs. Fry in batches for 5-6 minutes, or until golden, crispy & super crunchy. Remove from the oil & drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. SERVE IMMEDIATELY (I’m shouting because I am quite a shouty person & also because they are just too delicious to sit around looking pretty. They really are very pretty & pretty darn delicious while piping hot).
Happy Arancini munching x