Arancini filled with rich Scotch Beef ragu
400 g Scotch Beef PGI braising steak, cut into small cubes, not as fine as mince
50 g unsalted butter
50 g thin rashers of fatty pancetta, finely chopped (sharp knife or scissors required)
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
150 ml red wine
Beef stock (approx 350-400 ml)
3 tbsp sun dried tomato paste or tomato purée
1 large tomato roughly chopped
FOR THE RISOTTO (if using homemade)
50 g unsalted butter
I large onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
500 g risotto rice, Arborio will be best in this case
150 ml dry white wine
1.5 to 2 litres hot vegetable or chicken stock
Few strands of saffron
40 g finely grated Parmesan
40 g unsalted butter
Pepper and salt
TO MAKE THE RISOTTO AND RAGU INTO ARANCINE
2 balls of mozzarella, drained and thinly sliced
3 or 4 tbsp plain flour
2 or 3 eggs beaten
200 g dried breadcrumbs
Sunflower oil spray if baking
This wonderful Arancini filled with rich Scotch Beef ragu is a perfect mid week meal, you could make this using leftover, slow-cooked, beef or oxtail stew and a good packet mix risotto (risotto ready in approximately 12 minutes) but it is well worth the trouble of making both from scratch if you have time and the inclination.
If making from scratch the Ragu will take 15 minutes to prepare and 1 hour 55 minutes to cook.
The Risotto takes 15 minutes to prepare and 40 minutes to cook (or 12 minutes if you are using a pack).
The recipe will make around 8-9 Arancini balls (or a few more depending on size).
To make the Rich Ragu
Melt the butter in a large, broad based pan add the chopped pancetta, onion, carrot and celery and gently fry for about 10 minutes until just beginning to brown a little, add the chopped steak and stir to coat in the oils and to separate the pieces.
Fry for 10 to 12 minutes to brown the meat all over and to evaporate excess meat juices. Add the wine and bubble to deglaze the pan then add about 150 ml of the stock and stir well. Add the tomato paste and the chopped fresh tomato and stir well.
Reduce the heat to a low simmer, partially cover the pan with a lid and if you have a heat diffuser, place that under the pan. Continue cooking for about 1-1 1/2 hours until the meat is very tender and a thick rich sauce coats it. Add a little extra stock from time to time but don’t let it become thin and watery. Check seasoning, you shouldn’t need extra salt but some black pepper would be good. Set aside to cool.
While the ragu is cooking make the risotto.
To make the risotto
Put the saffron strands into a small bowl or ramekin and soak it in a tablespoon of warm water.
Set the pan of hot stock over a very low heat so that it’s just steamy, not boiling, just next to the risotto cooking pot, and have a ladle to hand.
Melt the butter in a broad based pan and softly fry the onion and garlic until slightly transparent, 8 minutes approximately then add the rice and stir well till coated in the butter. When the rice is hot but not catching, add the wine all at once, it should make a loud hiss, stir as the alcohol evaporates then add 2 ladles of the stock with the soaked saffron and stir till the stock is absorbed before adding more. Continue like this until all the stock is used and the risotto looks creamy. Test to see that the rice is ‘al dente’. If not stir in a little extra stock or a little boiling water, stir till ready. Remove from the heat and with a wooden spoon, beat in the Parmesan, butter and seasoning.
Set aside to cool, stirring now and again to prevent a skin forming and helping it to cool quicker.
To make the ARANCINI
To form the arancine, in wet hands take a scoop of cool risotto and shape it into a flattened circle about 1-2 cm thick, lay a thin slice of mozzarella in the centre and a dessertspoon of the cold ragu in the middle of it. With your hands form the rice into a ball to enclose and press to seal in the filling. Patch with more risotto if any holes appear. It should stick together well. When all the risotto is used up chill the balls in the fridge while you prepare the crumb coating.
Using three separate plates or shallow bowls, on the first spoon out the flour, on the second pour the beaten eggs and on the third the dried crumbs.
Take the rice balls one at a time, roll in the flour and shake off excess, dip in the eggs and brush it all over, no gaps. Allow excess egg to drip back on its plate before rolling in a layer of crumbs. Place on a greased baking tray.
Repeat until all are done. You may need to top up the egg, crumbs etc. Chill while you heat the oven.
Set the oven temperature to 190° C. Spray the rice balls all over with the sunflower oil and bake for about 20-25 minutes till crisp and golden brown.
Serve with a lovely fresh salad