Cauliflower Cheese and Thyme Arancini

, from Issue #75. November, 2017
Photography by Sarah Tuck.
Cauliflower Cheese and Thyme Arancini

I have been making different variations of arancini for many years now and this flavour combination is one of my favourites. No-one can resist the oozing cheesy centre and when served with aioli on fresh thyme they look pretty as a picture.

Serves: 25


4½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup cream
1 head cauliflower, chopped into very small florets
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
25 grams butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup risotto rice
¼ cup white wine
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
½ cup grated parmesan
225 grams brie or taleggio, chilled in the freezer for a ½ hour, then chopped into 1cm cubes
4 cups breadcrumbs
3 eggs, lightly whisked
4 cups high smoke-point cooking oil
thyme sprigs, to garnish
good-quality aioli, to serve


Heat ½ cup stock and the cream in a large deep frying pan, whisking to combine. Add the cauliflower, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then half cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and cook for another 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Heat the remaining stock in a microwave or in a saucepan over a low heat. Melt the butter and oil together in a large heavy-based pot.

Add the onion and garlic and cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes until the onion is softened but not coloured.

Add the rice and cook for two minutes, then add the wine and thyme, stir and cook another two minutes. Add the stock, half a cup at a time, stirring well and adding more stock as it becomes absorbed. This process will take about 20 minutes. The rice should be just soft, not mushy.

Add the parmesan and stir to melt through, then add the cauliflower and stir to combine. Refrigerate until chilled.

Taking tablespoonsful of the rice mixture at a time, poke a cube of brie into the middle of each and roll into a soft ball. Roll each ball in breadcrumbs and place on a baking paper-lined tray.

Chill for 10 minutes, then dip each ball in the whisked egg and in the breadcrumbs for a second time. Chill again for at least an hour or overnight.

Heat the oil in a saucepan until a cube of bread dropped in becomes golden and rises to the surface in about 20 seconds. Cook the balls in batches of about 6 at a time, for about 1–2 minutes, until golden and heated through.

Drain arancini on paper towels and serve on a bed of thyme, with aioli on the side. Makes about 45.