Bolognese arancini

Cheesy bolognese arancini in tomato sauce.
Cheesy bolognese arancini in tomato sauce. Photo: Katrina Meynink

If you make your risotto in a pressure cooker* or slow cooker* with the pressured risotto function, it will be a little dryer than your traditional stove-top stir, meaning it is immediately ready for arancini. I also oven-bake rather than fry the arancini – less faff, less oil splatter and less attention is required. Trust me, a hands-off arancini is a win for all. Yes, the addition of cheddar is completely untraditional but it adds glue-like binding power for the rice.



50ml olive oil

60g butter, coarsely chopped

1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 cups arborio rice

1 litre chicken stock

80g parmesan, grated

100g cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup bolognese sauce (homemade or bought)

1 small ball of buffalo mozzarella, torn into small pieces (or individual bocconcini balls)

To coat

⅓ cup flour

1 large egg, lightly whisked

1 cup panko crumbs

To serve

roasted tomato sauce or passata


oregano leaves


1. Heat the olive oil and half the butter either in your slow cooker or in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until pale and translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the rice and cook until toasted, about 1-2 minutes. Add the stock and if using your pressure cooker, set to the risotto function and cook for 12-14 minutes. Alternatively, if using stovetop method, add the stock gradually, and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly and adding stock until the rice is cooked through. For the slow-cooker, cover and cook on high for 1-2 hours, or until the stock has been absorbed and the rice is tender.

2. When the rice is cooked, add the remaining butter and stir through, followed by the parmesan and cheddar.

3. While the rice is still warm, add the bolognese and stir to incorporate. (If using the stovetop method, rest the risotto in the fridge overnight, before assembling the arancini.)

4. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional). Bring the risotto to room temperature if it's been firming up in the fridge.

5. Using your hands, scoop out a large golf ball-sized amount of the rice mixture and roll into a ball. Indent the ball with your thumb and add a piece of mozzarella (or a ball of bocconcini) and encase the cheese in the risotto mixture. Place on a tray and repeat with the remaining rice and cheese.

6. Roll the balls in flour, then beaten egg, followed by panko crumbs to coat, shaking off excess. Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake for 20 minutes, turning gently halfway through to get a nice even brown crust.

7. Warm the tomato sauce and place in serving bowls. Top with arancini and extra parmesan and oregano. Serve piping hot.

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*If you don't have access to these kitchen appliances, I would recommend making the risotto the traditional way and leaving it overnight in the fridge before assembling the arancini. If a risotto is too wet, the arancini collapses and has no holding power.