This delightfully delicious and satisfyingly crunchy appetizer is inspired by the classic Italian dish arancini, a favorite snack made from leftover risotto. Arancini are essentially little balls of creamy rice formed around a nugget of cheese, coated with breadcrumbs, then fried to create a crisp, golden brown crust on the outside – a truly swoon-worthy snack!
As tasty as the original is, we couldn’t help but to try and go one better. Why not fill our favorite mushroom, the magnificent morel, with risotto and cheese, then coat it with crispy panko crumbs and pan-fry it to perfection? After all, the morel is ready-made for stuffing by Mother Nature herself.
Of course, big, “stuffer” sized morels are hard to come by when they’re out of season. Not to worry! Fortunately, we had a few extra large dried morels on hand, which are even easier to use than fresh – and nearly as tasty. We couldn’t think of a single reason not to try it, so after a little experimentation, taste-testing and tinkering with the recipe, here is our take on a classic, updated for the mushroom lover in all of us.
Crispy Risotto-stuffed Morels
This beautiful dish looks a little complicated, but it could not be easier to make. All it takes is a little advance preparation and a few key ingredients.
If you make your risotto the night before, you can assemble these delicious stuffed morels in a few minutes. We used the classic Risotto Milanese , which is made with brightly colored saffron to give the rice a slightly golden tint, but you can use your favorite risotto recipe if you prefer.
Perfect as an appetizer or serve with a crisp salad for an elegant light luncheon!
- 4 unbroken large dried morel mushrooms, 4 – 5 inches in length
- 1 – 2 cup risotto, depending on the size of your morels (recipe follows)
- 1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional)
- 2 oz Morel & Leek Jack cheese, or other cheese of your choice
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup panko crumbs
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
Soak the morels in warm water for 15 – 20 minutes or until fully rehydrated and pliable. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid for other uses, if desired. Rinse the morels gently under cool running water to remove any residual grit. Drain and pat dry. Snip off any stems to make stuffing easier.
Stir the parsley (if using) into the risotto. Gently fill each morel loosely with risotto, taking care not to tear the wall of the mushroom. Slice the cheese into 4 little-finger size sticks slightly shorter than the morels. Carefully poke one piece of the cheese into the center of each stuffed morel. Pack a little more risotto into the end to cover the cheese.
Dust each morel generously with flour, then turn in the beaten egg, covering all surfaces completely. Finally, roll in the panko, patting more panko on top until each one is well coated. Add more panko if necessary.
When each morel is completely coated, place them in the refrigerator to chill for a few minutes. The morels may remain refrigerated for up to two hours before finishing them.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy non-stick pan over medium high heat. Place the stuffed morels in the hot oil – do not move them until they have begun to brown or the crust might peel off. When the first side is golden brown, shake the pan slightly to loosen them and then roll each morel on its side. Repeat until all sides are well browned.
Remove from the pan and drain briefly on paper towels. Serve immediately.
Serves 2 – 4
Risotto is one of the most beloved dishes in the Italian rice repertoire. Risotto Milanese is the classic saffron-tinged risotto traditionally served with osso buco, but it also makes a delicious first course. This recipe makes more than enough for several generous servings, so be sure to reserve a cup or two to make the stuffed morels as detailed above.
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or more as needed
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 cup finely chopped shallot or onion
- 2 cups risotto rice (Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano recommended)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 tsp saffron threads soaked in a little stock
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
Heat the stock in a saucepan or (even easier) in the microwave until very hot. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is bubbling, add the shallots or onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are softened and translucent.
Stir in the rice and keep stirring until every grain is well-coated with the butter. Pour in the white wine, the stock-soaked saffron and the salt, and stir continually over medium heat until all of the liquid is absorbed.
Start to add the hot stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as it is absorbed. Continue in this manner, adding the stock, ladle by ladle, pausing between each as the stock is absorbed. Don’t rush it – the slow addition of stock is crucial to a creamy risotto. Stir continuously throughout the process, about 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is barely cooked through, and remains slightly firm to the tooth.
When the rice is just done, remove it from the heat, and stir in the remaining butter and the parmesan cheese. Taste, adding a little more salt if needed.
Allow to stand for a moment or two, then ladle into serving bowls, offering additional cheese if desired.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
For even more news, information and recipes, sign up for the free Earthy Delights email newsletter.