Smoked haddock spelt arancini

Makes 15-20

These delicious little deep-fried Italian snacks, that are traditionally made with risotto rice, can be made with all sorts of flavourings, from a simple saffron Milanese to a silky mushroom risotto. I think arancini originated as a way of using up leftover risotto.

You can make these into smaller, bite-sized pieces that you could serve as canapés or larger ones if you want to make more substantial snacks or even into a breakfast dish with a fried egg on top.

100g natural smoked haddock
500ml fish stock
A couple of knobs of butter
1 medium onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
80g spelt, soaked in cold water for a couple of hours and rinsed
40g freshly grated parmesan or hard cheese
2-3tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 80-100g flour for dusting
1 large egg, beaten
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
Vegetable or corn oil for deep-frying

Put the haddock in a saucepan with the fish stock, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes then transfer the haddock on to a plate and strain the stock through a sieve. Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan and gently cook the onion for 2-3 minutes on a low heat, stirring every so often.

Add the drained spelt and stir on the heat for a minute, season then gradually start adding the stock, a little at a time and stirring every so often, ensuring that each addition of stock has been absorbed before adding the next. Continue adding the stock until the spelt is tender, it should be fully cooked through and quite dry as it needs to stay together when moulded. Stir in the parmesan and parsley and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile remove all of the skin and bones from the haddock and flake the flesh into small pieces and stir into the hot spelt. Re-season if necessary and transfer to a shallow dish to cool, stirring every so often as it's cooling; then transfer to the fridge for an hour or so.

Mould the mixture into 10p-sized pieces for canapés or larger if you wish. Have 3 dishes ready, one with the flour, the second with the beaten egg and the third with the breadcrumbs. Pass the arancini firstly through the flour, shaking off any excess, then through the egg and finally through the breadcrumbs.

Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer and fry the arancini a few at a time for 2-3 minutes, turning them with a slotted spoon as they are cooking, until they are golden then transfer on to some kitchen paper.

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