Last Sunday I decided to make arancini for the first time in my life. Just to let you know: this is not a light recipe. Arancini or arancine are fried rice balls coated with breadcrumbs. They are from Sicily, southern Italy, and they are usually filled with ragù (meat sauce) or tomato sauce, mozzarella (you can use provolone or scamorza, soft, stringy pear-shaped cheese, sometimes smoked) and/or peas.
I never eat fried food. N-E-V-E-R! However, it never killed anyone and I eat it once in a while.
There are a number of local variants and different ways you can fill them. Mine is very simple. I used with tomato sauce, peas and mozzarella. They were hot and fragrant… simply delicious! I ate two of them and I was full but I found out that you can freeze them before frying. I sent the picture of my arancini to a close friend of mine who is from Sicily. She and her mom were very proud of me!
The preparation requires more or less 2 hours but only because the rice must be completely cold. In those two hours you can prepare the tomato sauce and the peas.
So… are you ready? I’ll make it very simple for you.
Ingredients for 15 arancini (or 7/8 if you make them very big):
500 g (approximately 2 1/2 cups) rice
100 g (1/2 cup) of finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp butter
1 mozzarella cheese
8 tbsp peas
3 egg yolks, beaten (they’ll go into the rice)
2 whole eggs, beaten (for the final step of the recipe)
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
vegetable oil for deep frying
For the tomato sauce recipe see this link
Boil the rice in a small amount of salted water, stirring constantly so that all the water will be absorbed once cooked (after 16-18 minutes +/-). Meanwhile, melt the saffron in the three whisked yolks. Add the mixture to the cooked rice. Add the Parmesan cheese and the butter. Stir well. Pour and level the rice on a large dish. Let it cool down. It will take around 2 hours. It must be completely cold.
Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce. See the recipe here.
Cook the peas (I used the frozen ones) for 4-5 minutes in a tablespoon of oil and some water. Add a small pinch of salt.
When tomato sauce is ready, add the peas.
When the rice is cold, you are ready to make your arancini. You can give them the shape of a ball or a pear. Form a thin layer by flattening the rice in your hand. Shape your hand into a cup and put into the hollow a small amount of tomato sauce with the peas and 2 or 3 dices of mozzarella. Then coat with another thin layer of rice. Now you can form the ball. You can add some rice if you see that there are some small holes around your arancino. Go on this way until you’ve finished all the ingredients.
And now the funny part. Dip your arancini in the whisked whole eggs and after that in roll them in the breadcrumbs.
Heat the oil at 350°F/180°C.
I tried 3 saucepans before finding the right one!!! I suggest to use a tall narrow saucepan or a fryer so that the arancini are completely covered by oil while frying.
Wait for a few minutes until their color becomes golden brown. Finally, let them drain on kitchen paper.