Arancini are a traditional Sicilian snack of stuffed rice balls which are coated with breadcrumbs and then fried. The most common filling is a ragù (a sauce of minced beef or pork with onions, peas and passata) but they can also be stuffed with ham and mozzarella, mushrooms or any other combination of vegetables, meat and cheese.
Makes 10 medium balls or 6 pear shaped arancini
- 600ml vegetable stock
- 250g Vialone Nano or Carnaroli rice
- 30g butter
- Generous pinch of saffron
- 50g grated Parmesan cheese
- A good portion of freshly made or left-over ragù (or any other filling of your choice)
- 175g plain flour
- 1 egg
- About 300g fresh breadcrumbs
- Oil for deep frying
- Boil the stock in a saucepan and add the rice. Stir once and then turn down the heat and cook for 15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed - do not stir. If it should dry out before being cooked add a little boiled water, a ladle at a time.
- Mix the strands of saffron with a little water, add to the rice and stir in gently. Add the butter and gently combine it with the rice until all the butter has melted. Add the Parmesan cheese and again stir gently until it is all completely mixed into the rice.
- Spread the rice mixture out over a large tray and leave it until it has completely cooled. This will take a few hours.
- Divide the rice into 10 (for medium sized balls) or 6 (for larger, pear shapes). Take the portions of rice, one by one, with wet hands and roughly mould into a bowl shape. Place a couple of teaspoons of ragù into the centre and press two or three pieces of cheese into it. Close the opening and form the rice into either a ball or a pear shape.
- Once all the arancini are ready whisk the flour and egg with just enough water to make a thick batter.
- Dip the arancini, one by one, into the batter making sure that they are covered all over and then roll them in the breadcrumbs.
- Heat your oil to around 170C/325F and deep fry until golden brown and crispy. It is better to only fry two large or three medium at a time in order not to lower the temperature of the oil.
- Drain on kitchen towel and keep warm.
- Serve immediately, either as a starter or as light meal accompanied with a mixed salad.
The name 'arancini' means 'little oranges' in Italian due to the round shape and size of the little snack. As small, round balls they are served either as a starter or as a snack but they can also be larger and pear shaped. These larger ones are also served as a Sicilian 'street food' snack but can make an excellent lunch or light meal when served with a fresh, mixed salad. One per person tends to be enough.
The best type of rice to use is Vialone Nano or Carnaroli, both of which are a lighter risotto rice from the Veneto region. If you can't get either of these any risotto rice will do but be careful not to stir it during cooking.
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