Dirty Rice Arancini with Sour Orange Mojo | Wine Enthusiast Magazine
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Dirty rice arancini with sour orange mojo.

Dirty Rice Arancini with Sour Orange Mojo

Courtesy Nina Compton, chef and co-owner, Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro, New Orleans

This dish, a menu staple at Compère Lapin since it opened in June 2015, melds Compton’s Caribbean roots and Italian training with the classic flavors of Louisiana.

Nina Compton
Nina Compton / Illustration by Brian C. Clark

About Nina Compton

“Much like my personality, my style of cooking is fun and outgoing,” says Nina Compton of Compère Lapin, one of New Orleans’ hottest restaurants, as well as the forthcoming Bywater American Bistro.

The Top Chef alum and St. Lucia native gives local ingredients Caribbean and Italian twists. The result is the creation of new classics like the dirty rice arancini here. “Diversity in the South’s population is woven into the food scene,” says Compton. “It goes to show how much room there is to grow within Southern cuisine.”

Ingredients for Dirty Rice Arancini

6 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces chicken livers, minced
4 ounces pork sausage (casing removed)
½ Scotch bonnet or habanero chile pepper, seeded and minced
1½ cups fine-chopped yellow onion
¼ cup fine-chopped green pepper
¼ cup fine-chopped celery
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to season
1½ teaspoons onion powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
1½ cups Arborio rice
2 cups flour
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups panko crumbs, finely ground in a food processor
Black pepper, to taste
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
1 cup fine-grated Parmesan
4 ounces fontina, cut into ½-inch cubes
Sour Orange Mojo (recipe follows)

Directions for Dirty Rice Arancini

Warm stock over low heat.

In large sauté pan, warm oil over medium-high heat. Add livers and sausage. Cook, stirring often, until meat is browned, about 5 minutes. Add chile pepper, ½ cup chopped onion, green pepper, celery, garlic, salt, onion powder, cayenne, oregano and thyme. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup stock and scrape up any browned bits. Lower heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.

In separate pot over medium heat, melt butter and add remaining 1 cup onion. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring often, 2 minutes. Continue cooking, adding remaining warm chicken stock 1 cup at a time and allowing rice to absorb stock between additions, until rice is al dente, 20–30 minutes (you may not use all stock). Remove from heat. Stir in sausage mixture, parsley and Parmesan. Let cool.

Season flour with salt and pepper. Put flour, egg and panko in separate dishes. With wet hands, scoop about 3 tablespoons rice and form into balls. Using thumb, create hole in center of each ball. Add cube of fontina, and enclose with rice. Coat in flour, then egg, then panko, and shake off excess each time. Set aside on wire rack until ready to fry.

Fill wok or deep pot with 4 inches oil, and heat to 350˚F. Fry in batches until golden brown, turning to cook evenly, about 4 minutes. Dry on paper towels. Serve hot with mojo sauce. Serves 4–6.

Ingredients for Sour Orange Mojo

6 large garlic cloves, chopped
½ Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds, toasted and ground
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 cup sour orange juice (or half-orange, half-lime juice)
2 teaspoons Sherry vinegar

Directions for Sour Orange Mojo

Using mortar and pestle or small food processor, mash garlic, chile pepper, salt and cumin into paste. Scrape into bowl. In small saucepan, warm oil and stir into garlic mixture. Let sit 10 minutes. Add juice, vinegar and black pepper.

Pair It

Larry Miller, co-owner/general manager of Compère Lapin, suggests the Descendientes de J. Palacios 2015 Pétalos Bierzo. “This is old-vine Mencía,” says Miller. “It has mild tannins and medium body to work well with the creaminess of the cheese and spicy flavor of the meat, with enough acidity to balance the fried texture of the arancini.”

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