Cooking Classes


The Daring Cooks Risotto Challenge

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker.  They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

With this challenge, we were required to make out own stock and our own risotto base.

I have made risottos many times over and wanted to challenge myself.  My risotto is a take on the Southern favourite – sweet potatoes.  They are served as a side dish at almost any meal but are a special favourite for Thanksgiving.

I am serving my sweet potato risotto with rack of lamb flavoured with a persillade.  A persillade is a flavouring made with chopped parsley and garlic.  I added lemon zest and panko and olive oil to bind it all together.  I like the panko rather than regular breadcrumbs because it seems to be crispier.

Arancini is another dish made from leftover risotto.  Balls of  cold risotto are dipped in beaten egg and then rolled in breadcrumbs.  They are fried or deep-fried usually, but one could bake them in the oven.  The panko does not absorb much oil so this is my preferred preparation method.

My arancini are a take on the Indian dessert, gulab jaman.  Gulab jaman are sweet balls that are deep fried and served with a sugar syrup.  My syrup for the arancini is made from the sugar syrup that was left after making candied ginger.  I thinned it out with a little water.

Just one little brag...OMG were these arancini delicious!  I would make the sweet potato risotto just so I could make the sweet arancini.  I cooked up all the little balls and put them in the freezer so I could enjoy every last one.  They will be like fresh made if I put them on a baking sheet in the oven for a few minutes.

Rack of  Lamb with Sweet Potato Risotto

For the risotto:

1 c sweet potato, cubed
1 c Arborio rice
½  c mascarpone
¼ c chopped pecans
8 whole pecans
4 T white sugar
¼ c sorghum
¼ c butter
2 t freshly grated ginger
2 c  ginger broth
½ c sugar

Peel and dice the sweet potato into ½ ” cubes.  Steam until just tender.  Melt 1 T butter and add 2T sorghum and 1 T grated fresh ginger.  Toss in the sweet potato cubes.  Saute until just turning brown.   Set aside half of the cooked, cubed sweet potato.  Mash the other half, and set aside for later.

Candy 8 pecan halves as described in note below.

Meanwhile, melt 2 T butter in a saucepan.  Add chopped pecans and 1 T grated fresh ginger.  Saute until the nuts are toasted.  Add 2 T sorghum.  Add the Arborio rice.  Saute for about 2 minutes.

Add ½ c ginger broth.  As the broth is absorbed, add broth a couple of tablespoons at a time until the rice is tender but still toothy.  When the rice is cooked to the right texture, stir in the mascarpone cheese and mashed sweet potato.

Toss with the candied sweet potato and serve.  Garnish with garnished candied pecan halves and strips of candied ginger.

Note:  To make the ginger broth slice 6 tablespoons of fresh ginger and simmer in 3 cups of water for ½ hour.  To candy the pecan halves, melt the sugar in a sauce pan.  When the sugar has melted, add the pecans.  Continue to cook until lightly browned.  Turn onto parchment paper to cool.

For the rack of lamb:

Make a persillade by combining the following in a small bowl:
½ c finely chopped parsley
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 t lemon zest
¼ c olive oil
1 c dry bread crumbs

Quickly sear two racks of lamb, meat side down, in an ovenproof pan.  When browned, turn over.  Press the persillade onto the meaty portion of both racks.  Put in 450F oven for 15 minutes, for medium.  Remove from oven and tent with tin foil.  Let sit for 10 minutes.

To put it together:

Place a mound of risotto on each plate.  Slice the racks of lamb and place 3 or 4 ribs on each plate.  Garnish with candied pecans and fresh parsley.  Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Arancini with Ginger Syrup

Chilled sweet potato risotto
3 egg whites
1 c panko
½ t dried ginger
¼ c white sugar
pinch of salt

Ginger Syrup and Candied Ginger:
Thinly slice 1 c fresh ginger.  Gently boil until tender, about 30 minutes.  Add 1 c white sugar.  Continue to boil until the ginger is translucent.  Cool.  Remove the ginger and reserve the syrup.

To make the arancini:
Season the panko bread crumbs with the dried ginger, sugar and salt.  Lightly whip the egg whites. 

Form the chilled risotto into 2” balls and chill for 30 minutes.  Dip each ball into the egg white and roll in bread crumbs.

Fry in 350F oil on all sides until browned.  If you do not have a thermometer, test the oil with a 1” square of bread.  If it browns in 30 seconds, the oil is ready.  Serve in a bowl with the ginger syrup.  Garnish with candied ginger.


  1. So creative and delicious! I love the sweet potato =D.

  2. You were so creative with the challenge! Awesome work. The arancini look gorgeous.

  3. Wow! It all sounds so good. I've tried leftover risotto balls, but mine fell apart. Not sure what I did wrong, but I'm going to try yours!

  4. Thank you, Lauren and Sarah. The arancini are really good.

  5. The arancini look amazing. What a creative idea to use sweet potatoes for the risotto!

  6. I love this combination, Sarah. The rich sweet risotto with the persillade is a brilliant combo... and the arancini... oh my goodness... I've never made them sweet before.. only savory.. great idea with that ginger syrup ... you are really on a roll!

  7. Yum!! Interesting that you could use the same risotto for both a savoury dish and a sweet one. I suppose sweet potatoes are versatile that way. Love Indian inspired food!

  8. Your risotto looks amazing!! The arancini look delicious as well. I have arborio rice here at home, but I still have made risotto.

  9. We were challenged to make a sweet risotto and anything I could find was just a glorified rice pudding. So I thought the sweet potato risotto if made with the ginger broth rather than a chicken broth, could be versatile enough to make sweet arancini. The arancini were better than the risotto!

  10. Great work! there is a Malaysian dessert combining sweet potato and ginger too, so I can really imagine how tasty the arancini would be!

  11. Wow. That looks SO good. I love sweet potato, and those arancini look so amazing, I want to reach through the screen and taste them. I will have to try them! Amazing job with the challenge.

  12. Wow!!! Did I say WOW? Because if I didn't... WOW

  13. Wonderful risotto and the arancini are inspired well done on this challenge. Your Sweet Potato Arancini with Ginger Syrup photo is excellent superbly done. And yes I used to live in Calgary many years ago and your posting bought back fond memories. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    Great step-by-step photos also.

  14. 3 hungry tummies - I will have to research that! Sounds great.

    Shelley C - Thanks :)

    Audax - Really? You lived in Calgary once upon a time. We must have a friend in know, the 6 degrees of separation!

  15. I am adoring the sweet potato arancini in ginger syrup so, so much. The combination of flavours sound wonderful, and I'm now wishing I could have a dessert like that too. Lovely job!

  16. That had to be the Perfect meal; a;; my favourite things are included. Thank you for sharing your risotto recipe.

  17. This risotto is wonderful! :) Will have to try it.

  18. Great job, can't thank you enough for your inspiration and creativity for risotto! Ciao, Roz (aka Bella)


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