arancini mac & cheese

photo (22)

arancini is a masterpiece of italian cooking, and is one of those divine things we get to experience in life on earth.
in italian, arancini means “little oranges”. they are small fried balls of oozy, cheesy risotto with a gorgeous, crispy outside.
as glorious as they may be, they are a rare thing i will not make in my own kitchen. i don’t really fry anything and these babies take a LOT of time & effort to make. so whenever i am at an italian restaurant that makes arancini for me, i order them as fast as i can.
my gift to you: easy arancini deliciousness that you can whip up on a regular weeknight. AND you don’t have to boil the pasta!
it’s especially kid-friendly and with the addition of the salty pancetta, it was a big pleaser for the man in my house. with your fork, you gently crack open the crunchy panko topping and it gives way to the beautiful, stringy mozzarella cheese hiding underneath.
try not to eat the entire dish.

photo (21)

arancini mac & cheese
adapted from alexandra cooks

ingredients

7 tbsp butter, divided

1/4 cup flour

3 cups milk (whole or 2%)

3 cups water

1/2 tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 oz pancetta, diced

3/4 lb (12 oz) elbow pasta (or other small pasta), uncooked

5 oz parmesan cheese, grated

3/4 cup panko

1/4 cup italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

8 oz mozzarella (fresh mozzarella “pearls” are perfect for this recipe, but pre-shredded works fine too)

directions

1. preheat oven to 400 degrees. melt 4 tbsp butter in a large (2 quart) saucepan over medium-high heat. add flour, whisking constantly for about 1 minute. add milk & water, whisking to scrape all flour-butter mixture off the bottom of the pan. bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. add salt and pepper. simmer until mixture begins to thicken a bit, about 10 minutes. remove from heat.

2. meanwhile, in a small skillet, crisp the pancetta over medium heat until nicely browned. pour uncooked macaroni pasta into an ungreased 9×13 baking dish, and grate parmesan cheese evenly over the top. once the pancetta is done, sprinkle on top of pasta & parmesan. add remaining 3 tbsp of butter to pancetta pan and melt over low heat. place panko in a medium-sized mixing bowl & pour melted butter over top, and add in chopped parsley. using your fingers, mix to combine. season with just a pinch of salt & pepper.

3. pour milk mixture over pasta in baking dish (it will feel like a lot of liquid, but it will be fine – this cooks the pasta). cover dish with foil and carefully transfer to the oven. bake for 20 minutes.

4. remove from oven, uncover, and gently stir. scatter mozzarella evenly over the top of the mixture. top with panko mixture. bake for 15-20 minutes more – uncovered – until top is golden brown and macaroni is bubbling. let dish sit for about 10 minutes to cool before serving.

enjoy!

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