It all started as a clever idea for a cooking competition. Last summer, Bow Valley Ranche Restuarant’s chef Jenny Kang needed to come up with something unique for the annual Pig and Pinot event in Calgary. She liked the idea of stuffing a fried risotto ball with pork rather than just the traditional gooey mozzarella cheese, and her meatball arancini was born.
This little stroke of genius worked: Kang won the competition and the accompanying Divine Swine trophy. Bow Valley Ranche regulars were so intrigued by her winning dish that Kang knew she had to add it to the restaurant’s menu.
The dish begins with a carefully seasoned ground pork meatball filled with fresh mozzarella cheese. Kang wraps the whole thing in plain risotto (as not to overpower the flavour of the meatball) before crisping it up. The ball is glazed with Kang’s signature spicy and sweet Korean chili paste sauce that she’s been using in her pork dishes for years. She finishes the dish with a yogurt aioli to balance the spiciness of the glaze.
While the dish doesn’t look like too much when it arrives at the table — an arancini is an arancini — Kang loves that diners experience a little bit of drama when they cut into it.
“I wanted to build something with layers,” Kang says. “So that when you cut it, you can see the meat and the cheese coming through.”
The meatball arancini sits on Bow Valley Ranche’s appetizer menu at $17 an order, but since it is quite filling, Kang recommends sharing it between two people before digging into one of her opulent entrees. She also notes that because the dish is rather heavy, she’ll probably swap it out for something lighter once summertime hits, but it will likely return again next fall.
15979 Bow Bottom Trail SE, 403-476-1310, bvrrestaurant.com