There is a famous comfort food in Italian cooking called “arancini”…pronounced “ar-rahn-chee- nee”. Traditionally, they are made from using up leftover risotto, by rolling it up into a ball and inserting some melting cheese in the middle, like mozzarella. They are breaded and deep fried, and then served immediately hot, to let the surprise center of molten cheese delight your palate! Arancini, by the way, means “little oranges”, which refers to the orange-coloured and dimpled beauties that these turn out to be. In order to ketofy this recipe, I thought of using another Italian comfort food, polenta, as the main component, instead of risotto. And of course, baby corn comes to the rescue when incorporating polenta in our beloved keto recipes! So, in the end, I present you these lovely beauties: “polenta poppers” that reveal a gooey, cheesy surprise in the center - jalapeno havarti and smoked gouda cheese. Yum!!
400 mL can baby corn (makes 1 cup puree)
2 cup almond flour
6 tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons oil (like avocado, olive, macadamia, etc…your choice)
200 g cheese, cut up into 1 centimetre cubes (I used 100 g jalapeno havarti and 100 g smoked gouda)
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup ground pork rinds
400 g grease for frying (lard, tallow, oil, etc)
Sour cream and fresh basil for plating serving suggestions (optional)
First start out with the canned and drained baby corn. Place the baby corn in a food processor or blender.
Grind up the baby corn until it makes a smooth puree
In a bowl, add the dry ingredients (almond flour, coconut flour, salt, baking powder). Blend the ingredients with a fork until fully mixed.
Add baby corn puree and oil
As well as the eggs. And then with a fork, blend the ingredients very well to form a uniform dough.
On a cutting board, cut up the cheese into 1 cubic centimetre cubes (or anything close to that measure…no need for rocket science precision here). I happen to use havarti cheese with jalapeno - to get a nice Tex Mex flavour going on
And I also used smoked gouda cheese, to get a nice Italian flavour, too
In order to make the breading, I took the pork rinds and placed them in a food processor
I turned on the blades and let them pulverize the rinds to a coarse dust
I also grated the Pecorino Romano cheese. If you cannot find pecorino romano, you can use parmigiano regiano or parmesan cheese
The ground pork rinds and grated cheese were blended in a flat dish
I then started forming the balls. I took a tablespoon and scooped out one portion of the dough, and then rolled it with my hands to form a ball
I then took one cube of cheese and pressed it into the ball, forcing it into the center
I then re-rolled the ball to completely conceal the cheese. as you can see in the picture, you cannot detect any evidence of cheese - this will make for a wonderful surprise!
The ball is then rolled in the rind and cheese crumb mixture
This is what the final ball looks like
Place about 400 g of pork lard (or tallow or oil or whatever grease you fry with) in a pan, and turn up the heat. Set up your “assembly line” ready for frying, which includes the receiving dish with paper towels to soak up excess grease
Fry up the balls, in batches of about 15, making sure they don’t touch each other. It only takes about a minute until you flip them over and fry the other side. Transfer the fried balls to the paper towel immediately when they look golden brown ready.
My beautiful mountain of polenta poppers
Here is a serving suggesting…with a dollop of sour cream and fresh basil. You can do whatever you want, like serve with pesto dip, ranch dip, tomato marinara sauce, parmesan cheese dusting, Tex Mex salsa…go ahead and go wild!!
Nice molten cheesy center
The perfect bite…focus on the dish
The perfect bite…focus on the fork