Updated: Feb 14
Delicious, crispy, deep fried Sicilian balls of rice.
Arancini literally translates as “small oranges”, and they can be done with leftover risotto.
There can be a lot of variation when it comes to the filling, the most traditional version has ragu with peas. Others remain meat-free or with a mozzarella cheese filling, but always savoury.
Don't stop at these two fillings for your arancini – try adding a spoon of chopped sautéed mushrooms, pistachios, a different cheese such as Gorgonzola or any kind of leftovers that you think will taste great!
In Sicily Arancini are normally served as a main for a "light" dinner, a quick lunch, or even a warm delicious breakfast!
They also make fantastic finger food at a party (in that case, just be sure to make them bite size and mix the filling and rice together).
Makes 10 balls - Preparation time 2 hours - resting time 1 hour - cooking time 30 min
1 white onion, diced
250g risotto rice
Saffron, a very generous pinch
650ml chicken stock, or vegetable stock
50g Parmesan cheese, grated
40g all-purpose flour
2 eggs, whisked
100g dried breadcrumbs (panko or what ever breadcrumbs you find in a supermarket)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1L vegetable oil
100g mozzarella cheese (or Caciocavallo), cut into small cubes about 2cm square
100g ham, shredded
30g Parmesan cheese
Ragu and peas filling:
150g beef mince
150g pork mince
50g frozen peas
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 sticks celery, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
200g tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
½ glass red wine
PREPARING THE FILLING:
If you opt for the ragu filling, please note that it needs to be more dense then the usual ragu so make it in advance (even the day before) or use your leftovers from your lasagna.
Heat a large pot until hot and add the olive oil. Cook the onion, celery, carrot and garlic until softened.
Add the mince and let it cook until browned all over. Add the peas. Stir well and add the wine. Increase to high heat and let the wine evaporate.
Add the tomato sauce, the tomato paste and thyme, then stir well. Add the water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for at least 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.
If you use the ham filling just mix the ingredients and set aside.
LET'S COOK THE RICE:
Saute the onion in a little butter until softened. Do not let it go brown. Add the rice, stir for a minute then add all the chicken stock and saffron. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer with the lid on until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked through, which will take about 18-20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Beat in the remaining butter and Parmesan and season to taste.
Spread the rice mix onto a tray, cover with cling paper (to avoid getting dry). Let it rest, sitting for about an hour or until it is cool enough to handle.
ASSEMBLE THE ARANCINI
Fill a small bowl of water and have it close to you while you shape the Arancini. You will need it to wet your hands so that the rice doesn’t stick to them.
Take some rice and spread it onto your left (or right) palm. The thickness should be 0.5 to 0.7 cm. Spoon the filling in. Use some more rice to cover the filling and give the arancini a round shape with your hands. Repeat until all the rice is used up.
Beat the flour and water to make a thick batter, this will make the shell crisp and robust. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and put the breadcrumbs on a plate. Dip each rice ball into the flour batter to coat, then into the eggs and finally into the breadcrumbs, patting them until they are well covered.
HOW TO COOK ARANCINI
Heat the oil in a deep pan no more than a third full, to 170C or until a breadcrumb sizzles on contact.
Fry the balls in small batches (2-3). Using a thermometer, make sure that the oil temperature is always around 170C to get a crispy result. Fry until evenly golden, turning as needed.
Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a little salt while still warm, serve hot or cold.
Arancini freeze well before or after frying. Once thawed fry frozen uncooked rice balls as above. For cooked arancini, reheat in a preheated 170 C degree (350 degree) oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
Hope you enjoy this recipe! If you make it, please let me know your thoughts and tag me on my Fb page Pasta Journey or my Instagram _pastajourney_ . I would love to hear from you!