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Lamb arancini

Main Canape / Party food
Serves 16

A quick shallow fry is a great way to transform leftovers, and no more so than in the case of risotto. Arancini, meaning "little oranges", are so-called after the shape and colour of the Sicilian rice balls made using saffron risotto. These lamb ones are lovely with tomato chutney, full-fat yoghurt or just a wedge of lemon.


25g unsalted butter
200g arborio rice
500ml chicken stock
1½ tbsp olive oil 
1 large onion, peeled and chopped 
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
250g minced lamb
salt and black pepper
1½ tsp ground allspice 
15g chopped dill
10g chopped mint
1½ tsp dried mint
50g plain flour, for rolling
2 eggs, lightly beaten
150g fresh breadcrumbs 
300ml sunflower oil, for frying
1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges, to serve


  1. Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan. Add the rice and turn up the heat to high. Cook for two minutes, stirring constantly, add 100ml of stock and boil for two minutes. Turn down the heat, then gradually add the rest of the stock, stirring frequently, until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is cooked al dente (if it needs more cooking after using up the stock, add some boiling water). This stage should take 40-45 minutes. Transfer the cooked rice to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan on a medium-high heat, add the onion and garlic, and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened. Add the lamb, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Cook for five minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is cooked through.
  3. Drain most of the oil from the pan (alternatively, transfer the mixture to a colander and leave it to drain for a few minutes), then add the meat to the warm rice with the allspice, dill, fresh and dried mint, and some more black pepper. Stir, then use your hands to shape the mixture into balls weighing about 50g each.
  4. Put the flour, egg and breadcrumbs in separate bowls. Roll the rice-and-meatballs first in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs, so they're well coated.
  5. Pour enough sunflower oil into a large sauté pan so that it rises 0.5cm up the sides. Put the pan on a medium-high heat and, once it's up to temperature (test by dropping in a cube of bread: it should sizzle and turn golden and crisp in about 40 seconds), fry the balls in batches for four to five minutes, turning so they colour and crisp on all sides. Transfer to a kitchen paper-lined plate and keep somewhere warm while you cook the remaining arancini. Serve hot with a wedge of lemon on the side.