Irish Arancini

As far as I'm concerned, St. Patrick's Day is not supposed to be a holiday based around healthy foods and watching your calorie intake. But then again, what holiday is? When I think of St. Patrick's Day, or Irish food in general, the first things that comes to mind are the obvious corned beef and cabbage, beef stew, soda bread, Irish cheddar cheese (can't forget that!) and Guinness.  None of which are entirely healthy.  So why change things up now?

Let's take some buttery mashed potatoes and wrap them around a bit of Sweet Italian Pork sausage and a small cube of Irish cheddar cheese and then roll the whole mess into a ball before dusting it with flour, brushing it with egg wash and dredging it through breadcrumbs.  Then, because that might not be enough, let's deep fry it all up in some olive oil.  Wait until it cools, just a bit, and then take a bite and enjoy. Washing it down with a Guinness, of course.

Inspired from the Irish dish "Bangers and Mash" and one of my favorite Italian treats, the Arancini, the original plan was to bake these in the oven just before serving but I was afraid that the slow heat of the oven would make the mashed potatoes become too soft and not maintain their shape.  Afraid of being stuck with a gooey mess of mashed potato, cheese, sausage and breadcrumbs, out came the olive oil for some deep fat frying.  

Like its Italian cousin, when you bite into the Irish Arancini, cheese rushes out and then you get a bite of Sweet Italian Sausage and creamy mashed potatoes flavored with just a hint of Dijon mustard, just to boost the flavor up a bit and give it a smooth tang.  The breadcrumbs add texture to the Arancicni and protect the potatoes from getting too soft.  I made these a day in advance and the plan is to take them to today's St. Patrick's Day Parade in Southie where I'll give them a quick bake, just to toast them back up before putting them out for people to enjoy.

Check out the recipe after the jump!

Irish Arancini
Makes About 2 Dozen

- 3 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2 TBS butter
- 1 TBS sour cream
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 3 links of Sweet Italian Sausage
- Irish Cheddar Cheese, cut into 24 cubes
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 2 eggs
- 1/2-3/4 cup flour, more for dusting
- 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
- Olive Oil for frying

Start by baking scrubbing the potatoes and poking holes in them with a knife or fork.  Bake in a 400 degree oven until cooked through.  Let cool until they are just able to be handled and then either run the potatoes through a ricer or mash them by hand until smooth.  Add butter, sour cream and Dijon. Season to taste.  Gradually, add 1/2 cup of flour to the potatoes and keep adding flour until a very loose dough starts to form.  Don't add too much flour.  The potatoes should still resemble the texture of mashed potatoes, just be a little thicker.  Chill until ready to use.

Trim the sausage of it's casing by running a pairing knife down the center and peeling away the casing. Discard.  Place sausage meat into a large, hot skillet and break apart into bite-sized pieces with a spoon.  Let the sausage brown and then turn off the heat and pat the sausage dry with a paper towel.  Make an assembly line by placing the cheese, sausage and potatoes into separate bowls.  Additionally, put the flour and breadcrumbs into a separate shallow dishes.  In a small bowl, gently mix together the eggs.

Start by getting a piece of sausage and cheese in your hand and then wrap mashed potato around and roll into a ball, totally encasing the meat and cheese.  Dredge it through the flour, shaking off any excess flour.  Using a brush, paint on the egg wash and then dredge the ball through the breadcrumbs.  Set aside and repeat process until you run out of potatoes.

In a small shallow skillet, heat olive oil until very hot (you should see "waves" on the surface) working in small batches, add some of the arancini to the hot oil and let brown.  Carefully turn on all sides so that it gets evenly brown.  Drain on paper towels and eat once cooled a bit. Alternatively, you can make these a day in advance and then heat in a hot, at least 400 degree oven.  Serve when warm.


Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

Looks like fried deliciousness!

Daisy said...

I never realized just how versatile arancini was. I just had lobster arancini with avocado creme fraiche at B&G, and now you make a fabulous Irish version!! yum.

Kerstin said...

Mmm, so creative - love it! Definitely the perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick's day :)

Divya Yadava said...

That's a nice twist to a traditionally Italian dish! I will definitely try this out.

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

What a great idea! I hosted a dinner on St. Patty's day and struggled finding a non-cabbage menu and settled on enchiladas instead (so not festive!). Wish I had known about these!

Simone said...

Hey, I got to the party late, but I was there just on time to taste one, actually two, of your super nice fritters.
I loved them!

Molly said...

Absolutely brilliant idea for my leftover mashed potatoes! Love the recipe.

Jen said...

The way you describe this makes me really want to see the inside of it! Sounds great.

Justin said...

I love arancini, these look delicious and creative!

katerina said...

Awesome way to
"Fuse" the cultures. Who wouldn't love this take on arancini?

Wicked Domestic said...

Fried bangers and mash? Sign me up! These would have also been great with Irish sausage. It's hard to find, but man is it good.

Irish Italian Kitchen said...

Irish arancini?! LOVE this! Have put the recipe in my favourites and will be trying out this Itish twist on my Italian husband's favourite quick dish! Thank you!

Alicia said...

Woah - that is such a creative idea for an St. Patty's day appetizer! I love your picture too!

Shannon said...

this sounds absolutely perfect for st patty's day :)

Candace Karu said...

I always have left over mashed potatoes. This is a brilliant way to use them to full advantage!

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