Whiskey-Braised Mushroom Arancini with a Whiskey Cream Sauce

We are in the midst of what is scientifically known as the ickiest part of winter. The holidays are over, celebrations done, decorations down and now we're left alternating between grey slush, suspiciously warm snaps and straight-up snow. Don't get me wrong, walking out the door in the morning to a sparkly blanket of freshly fallen snow still results in my having a "oooh, pretty" moment, but it's tempered by often finding myself in the middle of a landscape of grey.

The upside of winter, however, is carbs. I can't accurately express my love for them, but let me tell you it's boundless. When it's cold, grey, slushy and so on, my immediate reaction is somewhere in the realm of "hmm... eww... but carbs, though". I like to think of it as my cold comfort. *nudge* *nudge*.

And so, I bring you a recipe for Whiskey-Braised Mushroom Arancini in a Whiskey Cream Sauce,- the truest balance for icky winter times. This recipe takes a bit of prep but it freezes wonderfully, is very adaptable and is an instant crowd pleaser at events ranging from anywhere from a family dinner to a swanky cocktail hour.

Whiskey-Braised Mushroom Arancini with a Whiskey Cream Sauce

Time: 2.5hrs prep, 3hrs total Serves: 15


For the Risotto:
  • 3-4 cups mushroom stock
  • 2 tbsp butter/olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 220g mushrooms, diced
  • ¾ cup whiskey
  • 1½ cups arborio rice
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt to taste
For the Arancini:
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp whiskey
  • 40g pancetta, diced
  • 40g grated mozzarella
  • 3 cups panko breadcrumbs
For the Whiskey Cream Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups mushroom stock
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3c whiskey
  • Zest of 1 orange
To Assemble:
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • microgreens


For the Risotto:
1.   Bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat in a small pot. Immediately reduce the heat to low to keep the liquid warm.
2.   Place the butter/oil in a large pot and sauté the onion on medium-low heat until opaque. Add the mushrooms and ¼ C of whiskey and continue to cook until the mushrooms are tender and cooked through.
3.   Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the remaining ½ C of whiskey and allow to reduce to almost nothing, stirring constantly. Add the warmed stock a bit at a time (½ cup) and stir almost constantly until cooked to the point that it is a bit “al dente”, approximately 30-45 minutes. Add the Parmesan cheese, season to taste and spread the risotto out on a baking sheet. Allow to cool completely in the fridge before moving onto the next stage. Set aside any leftover stock and use later in the making of the whiskey cream sauce.

For the Arancini:
1.   Place the whiskey and brown sugar in a small frying pan and stir over medium heat for a minute or two until the sugar is dissolved. Add the diced pancetta and toss to coat, cooking for an additional minute or two to allow the glaze to adhere to the meat. Set aside to cool slightly.
2.   In a large bowl, mix the cold risotto, grated mozzarella and whiskey-glazed pancetta. Portion the risotto out into ¼ C portions and toss them in a bowl of panko breadcrumbs, ensuring that they are well-coated. Form the arancini into the desired shapes and set aside on a tray. Keep refrigerated until ready to fry.
*Note: you can prepare the arancini up to this point and freeze them on parchment-lined baking trays comfortably for up to a month. When you wish to cook them, simply thaw the arancini overnight in the refrigerator and continue on with the steps below.

For the Whiskey Cream Sauce:1.   Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk to create a roux, continuing to whisk while allowing it to cook out for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add the stock to the roux gradually while whisking continuously. 
2.   When the stock has all been incorporated, add the whiskey and bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened. 
3.   Lower the heat to medium-low and whisk in the heavy cream and orange zest. Season to taste and set aside, keeping warm.

To assemble:
1.   In a deep pan, heat the vegetable or canola oil over medium. Fry the arancini on all sides and in batches until golden brown. Removing the fried arancini to a paper towel-lined plate, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and keep them warm until all of the frying is complete.
2.   Plate the arancini with a tablespoon or two or whiskey cream sauce underneath, top with a sprinkling of parmesan and garnish with microgreens. Serve immediately.

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