Entertain Like a Chef

By Kristine Hansen

When you have guests over, enjoying the company of friends and family is the easy part. Deciding what to serve? That’s when hours of scrolling through recipe inspiration often has us stumped (and stressed).

Chefs are the best people to pose this question to, as their life’s work involves developing recipes and executing plating that inspires guests to whip out their smartphones to capture the beauty.

So, we tapped the brilliant, flavor-driven mind of Giovanni Novella, chef-owner of Bar Corallini in Madison, to get the recipe for one of his favorite appetizers.

“It’s not that complicated,” says Novella about arancini di riso, a fried rice-balls appetizer from southern Italy. Novella grew up in Naples, Italy, and arrived in Madison via San Diego five years ago.

“It’s something that you can make ahead. People sometimes make it with leftover rice. Outside it’s super crunchy, inside it’s creamy.”

Arancini with Meat Ragu


Yield: 12 TO 15 Servings


  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup minced yellow onion
  • 3 cups arborio rice
  • 3⁄4 cups dry white wine
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 12 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄2 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1⁄2 cup dry red wine
  • 4 cups San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1⁄2 cup tomato paste
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 cups breadcrumbs



Warm chicken or vegetable stock in medium saucepan. Keep warm (on a burner) and set aside. In a large saucepan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 2-3 minutes. Add rice to oil and onion, stirring over medium heat until rice starts to brown. Add white wine to deglaze the pan. Slowly add warm broth to rice while stirring. Add all broth. Stir and cook rice for 15-20 minutes, until rice is firm but cooked. Remove from heat and add cheeses, egg yolks and peas. Pour onto a sheet pan to cool.


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Cook and let vegetables sweat for 6-8 minutes. Add ground beef and sausage, and cook until brown. Deglaze pan with wine. Add San Marzano tomatoes and tomato paste, and stir until combined. Season with salt, pepper, basil and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat and let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.


Form the cooked rice into the size of a tennis ball. Flatten ball into a disc (like a pancake). Add about 2-3 tablespoons of meat sauce. Pack meat sauce nice and tight into the rice ball. Let rest for 20 minutes in the fridge (on a sheet pan).


In a large pan, add oil and heat to 360 degrees. Set up breading station of flour, eggs and breadcrumbs, using in that order. While oil is heating, roll chilled arancini in the breading station. Fry arancini 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Let rest on a paper towel.

This article originally ran in Lakeshore Living Madison’s spring/summer 2021 issue.

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