Cacio e Pepe Arancini as served at Bettina Pizzeria in Santa Barbara, CA, as seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: season 36.
Recipe courtesy of Bettina Pizzeria

Cacio e Pepe Arancini

Getting reviews...
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 15 hr 20 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 1 hr 35 min
  • Yield: about 14 risotto balls


Chicken Stock:



Calabrian Chile Aioli:


Special equipment:
a deep-fryer or deep-fry thermometer
  1. For the chicken stock: Fill a large stock pot with water and add the chicken backs, feet and vegetable or herb scraps. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 12 to 15 hours. (If doing overnight, make sure there is enough water in the pot.) Strain the stock using a fine mesh strainer. Freeze any remaining stock that you don’t use for the risotto.
  2. For the risotto: Bring 1 quart chicken stock to a simmer in a medium pot. (Save any remaining stock for another use.)
  3. In a separate rondeau or wide, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil on medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and garlic and sweat until translucent, being careful not to let the onions and garlic brown. Add the rice and toast for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour the wine into the rice, stirring the bottom of the pot to release any rice stuck to the bottom. Cook until the rice has absorbed the wine, then begin to add the hot chicken stock about a cup at a time. Continue cooking and stirring the pot every few minutes to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom. Once most of the stock is absorbed, add another cup; this should be done 4 to 5 times and take 30 to 40 minutes; cook in this manner until the rice is cooked to al dente and the stock is absorbed. Remove from the heat. Add 1 cup Parmesan, the cubed butter, black pepper and salt, to taste. Pour the cooked risotto on a sheet tray to cool for at least an hour, or until cool enough to handle.
  4. For the arancini: Using a scooper or large spoon, scoop about 1/4 cup risotto into your hands and form a ball about 2 inches in diameter. Make a well in the ball with your thumb and place a mozzarella cube in the center. Repeat with the remaining risotto.
  5. Place the flour, egg and breadcrumbs each in a small bowl. Dredge the balls in the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Hold the balls on a sheet tray or freeze until ready to fry.
  6. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or skillet to 350 degrees F.
  7. Place the risotto balls in the fryer in 2 to 3 batches and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  8. For the chile aioli: Mix the canola and Calabrian chile oil together in a small pitcher. Place the egg yolks and Dijon in a food processor. Turn on the food processor, then, while the motor is running, slowly stream the oil into the center until half the oil is fully emulsified. Slowly stream in 1/4 cup water, then continue to stream in the remaining oil until fully emulsified. Carefully scrape the aioli into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, paprika, salt and garlic to the bowl and mix well to incorporate.
  9. To serve: Place 4 dollops Calabrian chile aioli directly on the serving plate, then place the risotto balls on top of each dollop of sauce. Garnish with grated Parmesan.
  10. Cook's Note: Carnaroli rice has a higher starch content and firmer texture than arborio rice, which makes for risotto that is extra creamy without being sticky. Acquarello is the specific brand we use; their rice is aged, which allows for better flavor and absorption.