Now that I’ve started the “orange”, or feel good mood of the week with the Pumpkin soup, it only seems fair to continue… While visiting Sicily this summer, I’ve tried a thing called arancini. Hence, longing for the sun, summer and the beautiful Sicily, I just had to make them.
Arancini (translated from Sicilian) would be mean “little orange”. Truthfully, it’s a fried rice ball (croquette) with a variety of fillings inside. It may not seem fancy or special, but it does taste great and not just because I have sentiments from a nice trip (and a weakness for Sicilian cuisine). If you make the arancini smaller you can have them as canapés with drinks (I vouch for Prosecco), or with some sauce can be a perfect starter.
To be honest, this was my first attempt in aiming to make the arancini. I knew in theory that, it’s just a combination of risoto with pretty much anything from ragù to cheese or mushrooms, so I used the basic risotto recipe I usually use, the ragù, well in other words it’s the bolognaise sauce that’s my best friend for pasta and that’s pretty much it.
One small note, I do have to say about arancini, though these delights are easy to make they do require some time… Risotto, ragù and the actual making afterwards does take a little… BUT, all good things in life require work in some capacity, so it is worth a try. If you happen to be making risotto and have some leftovers it’s perfect to make it with, otherwise you can make a new batch.
Will make 16 to 20 arancini depending on the size
For the ragù
170g minced beef
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery, grated
1 carrot, grated
1 garlic glove, chopped
100ml red wine (optional)
250ml tomato sugo
salt and freshly grounded pepper
50g fresh or frozen peas
Process: Heat a heavy based pan, brown the minced meat adding little at the time. Next add the onion, celery and carrot and sweat till the vegetables are soft, adding garlic the last minute. Keep the heat on medium.
Pour in the wine and let it bubble for a minute or so then add the sugo, season with salt and pepper, reduce the lowest possible, cover and let it simmer for an hour.
After the hour taste and adjust the seasoning as needed, if the sauce is a too thick add a few spoons of water. Finally, add the peas and simmer for 5 more minutes.
You can use the ragù sauce once it is cool enough to handle or leave it for the next day.
For the risotto
1 shallot, very finely chopped
1 garlic glove, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
50 g butter
200g Arborio rice
100ml white wine
800ml vegetable stock
pinch of saffron (optional)
50g Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
Process: Bring the stock to simmer.
Heat the oil and half of butter in the heavy based pan and gently saute the shallot and garlic until softened. Add the rice and fry stirring for a minute, add the wine and let it the rice absorb it. Next, add a ladle of stock striring constantly until it is absorbed. Continue with the rest of the stock adding a ladle at the time. Don’t be tempted to add too much stock to the rice or it will be to watery; stick to 1-2 ladles at the time, just enough to moisten the rice, you may actually not use all the stock. To make the risotto will take 20 minutes, 5 minutes before the end tip in the saffron.
When the rice has cooked , remove the garlic, add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir in the butter, check the seasoning, add salt or pepper as needed. If you would be using the rice for the arancini directly, cover it and let to cool. I was using the next day, so I stored it covered in the fridge.
To assemble the arancini
salt and freshly grounded pepper
a bowl of cold water
500 ml vegetable oil
Process: Make the arancini, dip the hands in cold water, take a tablespoon of risotto in the palm of your hand, spread as equally as you can, then add a teaspoon of ragù in the centre and fold the rice around into a ball. The secret is to put as much ragù as possible into the arancini with as little risotto as you can. The first 2-3 maybe a bit tricky, but after that it’s a piece of cake.
Right, once you have all the arancini made, prepare the “assembly line”: beat the eggs lightly with some salt and pepper, pour the breadcrumbs into a bowl. Dip the arancino into the egg mixture, one by one (I used two forks to fish it out), then into the breadcrumbs. Be sure it is well coated and transfer to a clean plate. I would recommend preparing all the arancini before deep-frying, it’s just earier this way. When ready, heat the oil in deep frying pan and fry the arancini until nice golden brown, then transfer to a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
These arancini are wonderful on their own, with a nice cold glass of Prosecco are simply amazing for a start of the evening. You can even prepare and deep-fry them a day ahead and just warm up in the oven (210°C for 5-10 minutes) before serving and they will be just as good!