The Perfect Bite-Sized Thanksgiving Appetizer: Pumpkin Arancini

The most celebrated food and wine holiday of the year is almost here and we’ll be reaching for Chef Christina Machamer’s seasonal pumpkin arancini. Chef’s fresh take on these traditional Sicilian risotto balls is the perfect make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizer. While labor intensive, these delicious arancini can be made up to two months ahead of time and kept frozen until your holiday guests arrives. 

This recipe is creamy, cheesy, and has the perfect hint of pumpkin. Pair each bite-sized arancini with Frank Family’s 2019 Lewis Vineyard Chardonnay, whose rich texture and full body only enhance the creamy qualities of the arancini, allowing the warm pumpkin notes to shine through. 

Pumpkin Purée


1 EachPie pumpkin
2 SprigsThyme
To TasteOlive oil
To TasteKosher salt
To TasteFresh ground black pepper
1/4 CupChicken stock


  1.  Heat oven to 400°F.
  2. Slice pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and place thyme sprigs in cavity of pumpkin.  Roast cut-side up until soft and cooked throughout approximately 45-60 minutes.
  3. Scrape cooked pumpkin into a blender or food processor, add just enough chicken stock to process until smooth.

NOTE:  Purée can be made a head of time and frozen for up to two months.



2 TablespoonsOlive oil 
1 EachLarge shallot, minced
2 ClovesGarlic, minced
1 CupCarnaroli rice
1/4 CupChardonnay 
3-4 CupsChicken stock 
1/4 CupPumpkin purée
2 OuncesButter
2 Ounces Mascarpone cheese
1/8 CupParmesan Reggiano, grated
To TasteKosher salt 
To TasteFresh ground black pepper


  1. Heat oil in a large straight walled sauté pan. Add shallots, sweat until translucent, then add garlic, and cook 1 additional minute.
  2. Add rice, and parch, coating the grains in the fat for 1 minute. Add in Chardonnay and allow to reduce for 1 minute or until pan is almost dry.
  3. Add 1 cup of stock, and let simmer, stirring occasionally. When the stock is reduced to nearly dry, add another  cup of the remaining stock. Repeat the process a third time, checking the rice to make sure it is tender. If not, add more stock and repeat the process a fourth time. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. When rice is cooked, and stock is reduced, stir in butter, mascarpone cheese, Parmesan, and pumpkin purée. Season to taste.
  5. Continue to cook until the consistency has a slight flow, but most of the liquid is reduced.



Yields 20 Arancini

20 EachSottocenere al Tartufo Cheese, 1/4 inches cubed
1 CupSeasoned flour*
4 EachEggs, blended with 1t milk and a pinch of salt
3 CupsRitz cracker crumbs

*Measurements do not need to be exact and can be adjusted to taste.  For 4c flour, use 1T sugar, 1T salt, 1t or 40 turns of fresh ground black pepper, 1t paprika, 1T garlic salt, and 2 shakes of cayenne.


  1. Make risotto ahead of time, and chill overnight. It is much easier to work with when cold. Take a small amount of risotto and mold around the cheese to cover completely. Use just enough risotto to cover the cheese for the best rice to cheese ratio.
  2. Lay balls out on a sheet tray and freeze until solid enough to bread – approximately 2 hours.
  3. Bread arancini by coating first in a layer of flour, then egg wash, then Ritz crackers. For best results, double bread by repeating the process a second time.
  4. To cook arancini, heat a deep fryer filled with canola oil to 350°F or use a pot with enough oil to submerge arancini. Fry arancini 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Use a thermometer to make sure arancini have reached an internal temperature of 165°F. If not, heat in oven until desired temperature is reached.
  5. Serve arancini either by themselves or with a dipping sauce such as left over pumpkin purée, marinara sauce, or butternut squash pasta sauce.

NOTE: Breaded arancini can be frozen for up to 2 months prior to use. Do not thaw arancini or they will become soggy.