Endless memories I treasure in my heart of my Italian Nonna Vittoria making arancini. She was from Sicily and oh God did she make the best arancinis ever!!!
This is not her recipe, back then I was too young to care to ask and only too eager to devour them once ready!
Arancini, a Sicilian classic, are stuffed rice balls, coated with bread crumbs and then deep fried. They are usually filled with ragú, mozzarella and peas. A number of regional variants exist which differ in fillings and shape. Saffron is sometimes used as well.
Nonna, this is for you.
For the Rice
- 300 gr short-grain rice: Carnaroli or Arborio
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon of saffron if using
For the Meat Sauce and Filling
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 big carrot, finely chopped
- 1 big celery stalk, finely chopped
- 200 gr ground beef or 100 grams ground beef + 100 gr ground pork
- ¼ cup dry red wine
- 1 heaped tablespoon of tomato paste
- 1 cup passata di pomodoro (tomato sauce)
- 1/3 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
For the Rice Balls
- Mozzarella cheese, diced, as much as needed
- All-purpose flour, as much as needed
- 2 large eggs
- Water on the side to dip your hands in
- Pinch of salt
- Unflavored breadcrumbs, as much as needed
- Vegetable oil for frying
Make the Rice (Used ingredients: For the Rice)
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, place the rice and 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil.
- Cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer about 15 to 20 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed.
- Remove lid, stir in grated Parmigiano, butter, salt, and pepper, to taste.
- Spread the rice out on a large plate or baking dish to cool completely to room temperature.
Make the Ragu (Used ingredients: For the Meat Sauce and Filling)
- Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté, stirring often, until softened and the onions are translucent.
- Add the ground beef and pork (if using) and fry, stirring often, until browned.
- Add the wine and let cook until the alcohol aroma has reduced.
- Stir in the tomato paste and tomato purée, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally.
- Add the peas and continue to simmer the sauce for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the peas are tender and the sauce is thickened. It should not be liquid.
- Transfer the filling to a bowl and set aside to let it cool.
Assemble and Fry the Arancini (Used ingredients: For the Rice Balls)
- Once the rice and filling have completely cooled, start shaping your rice balls.
- Place 1 heaped tablespoon of rice in the palm of one hand, then use your fingers and thumb to shape it into a hollow bowl shape.
- Place about 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center and 1 to 2 small cubes of diced fresh mozzarella
- Then gently close the rice around the filling to form a round ball.
- When done shaping the arancinis whisk together the flour, eggs, 1/2 cup of water, and a pinch of salt in a shallow bowl until smooth.
- Spread the bread crumbs in a plate or baking dish.
- Gently roll each ball first in the egg-flour-water-salt mixture, letting any excess drip off.
- Then roll them in the breadcrumbs until evenly coated.
- At this point you can go directly to frying.
- Heat the vegetable oil.
- Fry your arancini in batches of just 2 to 3 at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pot until they are evenly golden-brown – about 3 minutes.
- Transfer them to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.
- Serve hot.