The A-Z Challenge has begun!
And day A already brings you so much greatness with these wonderful Arancini. These cuties are Sicilian rice balls. Filled rice balls, mind you. The name derives from the Italian word for oranges, which the rice balls definitely do resemble after you have deep fried them. Although nowadays most of the Aranci are in the literal shape of a ball, they originally had a conic shape just like the oranges that used to grow in Sicily.The rice balls have become mighty popular over the years, and the recipe is so precious to Italians, especially the Sicilians, that it is protected by the government -just like Pecorino cheese or Mozzarella. Something I totally and completely support.My recipe offers you the “sort of” classic version with meat ragú, although I have highly adapted it to make it easier to prepare. Besides that, I have also added a filling of mushrooms, which is suitable for vegetarians. This only serves to provide you with an idea of what you can do with these fantastic rice balls. But please, don’t stop there. Experiment; use peas, try a pesto sauce, add some spring onions. You know, just get crazy.Once you get the hang of it, it is a versatile recipe. However, how do you find the hang? I’ve got some tips for you, so you don’t have to struggle like I did.
- Use risotto rice. Not only does this make the recipe more authentic, but as risotto rice is in general short-grain and prone to sticking together, it will be easier to roll the rice into a ball. Not sure which rice to buy? Read this post about risotto rice!
- Prepare the filling while the rice is boiling. This saves you loads of time, as both of them need to cool down.
- Don’t forget to add the egss and parmesan to the rice! Honestly, you will manage without them, but you will need to add more salt to the dish. Besides that, the eggs and parmesan work as a binder. So don’t forget them!
- Once you start rolling the balls, make sure you have your plate ready to put them on. And very important (!), ensure that your hands are wet, so as to have the rice grains stick to each other instead of your palm.
- Please, please, please make sure that your pan really is suitable for deepfrying. I have one pan where you can still see the lines where the oil sat. Also, I personally preferred using actual deepfrying oil on a sunflower basis. I found that just plain sunflower oil (although it might be healthier) spatters way too much for me to feel safe.
Also, take a good look at the last photo… Can you guess what it is? Hint: it is for the letter F (my Facebook page may tell you even more!)
Sicilian Arancini - Stuffed Rice Balls
- 500 grams (17.6 oz) risotto rice, such as arborio (read more here)
- 1/4 tsp saffron
- 4 eggs
- 100 grams (3.5 oz) Parmesan cheese
- 100 grams (3.5 oz) bread crumbs
- Frying oil, sunflower oil
For the filling:
- 1 shallot
- 1 garlic clove
- 100 grams (3.5 oz) minced meat
- 100 grams (3.5 oz) mushrooms
- 170 ml (5.7 fl oz) dry white wine
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 tsp thyme leaves
Used kitchen appliances
- Large pan
- 2 small frying pans
- Large bowl, preferrably flat
- 3 small bowls
- Large frying pan with a thick bottom suitable for deepfrying
- Kitchen paper
- Bring 1 liter of water to the boil in the large pan, and proceed to add the rice and saffron. Bring it to the boil again, and put on a low heat. Cover with the lid and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.
- In the meantime, finely chop the garlic and shallot and divide in two halves. Heat the frying pans with a slug of olive oil. Add the garlic and shallot and let simmer on a medium heat. Slice the mushrooms. In one pan, add the minced meat. In another, add the mushrooms.
- Let it bake for about 5 minutes or until cooked through. Add half of the wine, a tablespoon of the tomato puree and some fresh thyme to each of the pans. Let simmer for another 5 minutes. Season to taste.
- Once the rice is ready, transfer to the large bowl, and let it cool for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat on the frying pans, and let the filling cool as well.
- Beat 2 eggs. Once cooled, add the eggs and the parmesan cheese to the rice. Divide the rice into 16 balls using your hands. Make sure your hands are wet, so the rice doesn’t stick to your hands. Slightly flatten the balls, make a hole in the middle and add about a teaspoon of the mixture. Close the balls around the mixture.
- Add some flour to one of the small bowls, 2 beaten eggs to the other, and the breadcrumbs to the last. Roll each of the balls through the flour, coat with the egg, and roll through the breadcrumbs. Place on a tray and let set in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Use the large pan with thick bottom, and add deepfrying oil (or sunflower oil) so the pan is filled for 1/3. Heat the oil up to 180C, or check to see if it’s warm enough by throwing in a piece of bread, which should brown in 15 seconds.
- Fry each of the balls for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Place on some kitchen paper, so it soaks up any excess oil.