Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine: Thanksgiving Virtual Potluck & Marx Food Giveaway

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Virtual Potluck & Marx Food Giveaway

Do you remember me telling you about Virtual Potluck: that special group of bloggers working together to give you cool information on all sorts of food related products.  Well we’re at it again. This time all 12 of us volunteered to work with Marx Foods to put together a Thanksgiving meal that will make your mouth water.  The turkey is made.  Our job is to fill in the rest of the dinner with cool recipes inspired from ingredients provided by Marx Foods.  We also have giveaways and discounts for our readers. (see below for more info)

Marx Foods is an online food store selling gourmet foods in bulk at wholesale prices.  They are the go to site for hard to find ingredients; selling things like Geoduck and fiddlehead ferns.  The ingredients we were sent included 2 different types of dried mushrooms, 2 types of dried peppers, vanilla beans and risotto. 

So what does one make with this array of pantry staples to bring to Thanksgiving dinner? I was initially thinking dessert…maybe a spicy vanilla rice pudding.  But I was really intrigued by the mushrooms and decided to do something savory; an appetizer or a small first course.  After much deliberation I decided on to make arancini stuffed with a spicy wild mushroom sauce.   For those that don’t know arancini are deep fried balls of rice usually stuffed with a meat sauce and cheese.  They are a delicious treat but not easy to make. 

Have you ever tried rolling cooked rice into a ball and stuffing it???  Well I have and it's tough but the end product is so worth it. If you have the patience I would recommend trying it; you won't be disappointed.

Let’s talk about the mushrooms I was sent a package of dried black trumpet and matsutake mushrooms.   Dried mushrooms are great…they store well, are easily reconstituted in warm water and add lots of flavor.  I like to add them to sauces or soups for that little something extra.  The matsutake variety have a very intense pungent piney flavor.  A little of these goes a long way.  They are very dense and meaty similar to portabellas.  Black Trumpets are a more delicate variety. The flavor is almost buttery, with a slight hint of smoke.   I can’t say which of these I liked more… they were both such a treat.

If you want to see what the others are bringing to dinner and have more chances to win cool food products head over to Cookistry 

Arancini Stuffed with Spicy Exotic Mushroom Ragu

For the Rice
5 cups water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups arborio rice
4 large eggs
2 cups Pecorino Romano, grated

To Coat and Fry the Rice Balls
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups fine dry breadcrumbs
⅔ cup vegetable oil
⅓ cup olive oil, plus extra for frying

For the Ragu
2 cups favorite sauce

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ozs chopped dried mushrooms reconstituted
½ teaspoon red pepper, crushed
1 cup frozen peas

1 fresh mozzarella ball, cubed 

Make the rice. Bring the water and 2 tablespoons olive oil to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan. Stir in the rice, return the water to a boil, then adjust the heat to simmering. Cook the rice uncovered, until al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain the rice and spread out on a tray to cool to room temperature. When the rice is cool, scrape it into a mixing bowl and beat in the 4 eggs and the grated cheese. 

Meanwhile make the ragu.  Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute mushrooms until soft. Add your favorite tomato sauce and cook down until thickened. Add frozen peas and crushed pepper. Simmer until peas are cooked through.

Forming the Arancini
Take a handful of the cooled rice mixture and shape it into a small ball in the palm of your hand. Make a well in the center of the ball and drop in 1 tablespoon of the ragu and a piece of cheese. Work the rice so that it completely encloses the ragu, and re-form the rice into a smooth ball. Continue forming arancine with the remaining rice and ragu.

Whisk the 2 eggs in a mixing bowl. Spread the flour on one plate and the bread crumbs on another, in an even layer.

Dredge a few of the rice balls in the flour to coat all sides. Tap off excess flour. Roll the rice balls in the beaten egg to coat, allowing any excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Finally, roll the rice balls in the bread crumbs, pressing lightly to coat evenly with the crumbs.. Remove to a clean baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining rice balls.
Pour the olive oil into a deep skillet. When the oil comes to temperature, carefully slip about a third of the rice balls into the oil. Fry, turning as necessary with tongs or a slotted spoon, until golden brown and crisp on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove to the paper towel-lined baking sheet, keeping them hot in the oven if you like. Fry the remaining balls. The arancine can be served hot or at room temperature.


****Give Away Details:  Marx Foods has given me some extra habanero peppers to share with one lucky reader.  All you have to do is head over to Cookistry pick one other blogger, check out what they're bringing and leave a comment on this post telling me what you think.  Contest ends midnight 11/27****

****Shopping Discount Details: Want to shop at Marx Foods between 11/21-11/27...Enter the word "Potluck" into the coupon code section and receive 10% off your entire order*****


  1. Yummy! You are a very patient woman ~ I bow to you!

  2. I have always wanted to try arancini, but have never taken the time. These looknso delicious!

  3. Impressive! I'm quite sure I could fill up on these alone!

  4. LOve Arancini! These look amazing and I think it's the perfect idea for a lovely bite!

  5. The look SO beyond good!! I would love to try them.

  6. Loving not Rachel rays cranberry vanilla rice

  7. I love arancini!! What a great concept Theresa!! Excellent post!

  8. I admire your patience. I checked out Farmgirl Gourmet's yummy looking burger :)

  9. Those look exceedingly delicious, and like something I would take to a potluck where I was in charge of bringing an appetizer. But not if I was in charge of the whole dinner.

    I was intrigued by Donna's Tres Flores drink.

  10. You have outdone yourself! What an amazing idea.

  11. That's like a weird twist on a Cajun Boudin Ball. I love it!!

  12. I've always wanted to try this, and yours looks delicious! Definitely pairs well with the turkey!Wish this was a "real" potluck!

  13. Not Rachael Ray's vanilla rice pudding looks divine!!

  14. Sometimes you eat Thanksgiving dinner so early you could go for something substantial later. I would go w/Farmgirl. That sanmich (thoughts how we pronounce in Pittsburgh) looked wonderful and could even be made; slider style for a buffet.

  15. Bow down to the arancini queen! Those stuffed nuggets of joy look absolutely delectable.

  16. The Pumpkin Apricot Meringue Tartlets by Farm Girl Gourmet look divine!

  17. I've eaten a TON of arancini in my life but have never made them myself! You did an awesome job!

  18. Ryan LOVES these. We had them in Spain. I have got to make them for him. Thank you for sharing with me. I hope you are having a relaxing weekend with family and good food. Many blessings this week, my friend!

  19. This recipe looks so delish, looking forward to trying this one out. The photos are mouthwatering.

  20. I have yet to make a credible arancini. This recipe has so many delectables in it - makes it a cut above the many hard rice balls I have encountered!