Friday, 17 February 2012

Arancini- Sicilian Rice Balls

Arancini or arancine are fried rice balls coated with breadcrumbs that originated in Sicily. Arancine are usually filled with meat sauce, meat sauce and mozzarella and/or peas.

The name comes from the Italian word for orange and means "little orange"
They are usually made if you have any leftover risotto but, you can make a simple risotto and just let it cool before making this recipe. 

What you will need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 white onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 cup arborio or canaroli rice (short grain starchy rice)
  • 1 box of chicken or beef broth -heated to a boil and maintained.

Rice Balls

  • 2 egg
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesano Reggiano (don't skimp here- buy a chunk & grate it fresh.)
  • chunks/little squares of mozzarella.
  • breadcrumbs (1- 2 cups) 
  • flour
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • salt/pepper
  • fresh basil- chopped
  • fresh parsley- chopped
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 heaped tsp sugar.

Step 1: you start by making a simple risotto. There are many steps to this recipe so if you want to spread it out, make the risotto one day, and create the balls the next day.

In olive oil and butter fry onions until lightly browned and then add garlic.

Step 2: add rice and fry for 1-2 minutes making sure all rice is coated with oil.

Step 3: add a ladleful of hot broth to rice and cook stirring constantly for the first couple of ladles to avoid sticking. 

Step 4: as each ladle of broth gets absorbed into the rice (where it is almost dry) you continue adding broth and stirring (you don't have to stir non stop but you need to watch it and stir often) for approx 20 minutes. At 20 minutes taste it to see if rice is cooked. Once it's cooked let the liquid evaporate to almost dry- i let it dry longer than if i was serving risotto because my goal is to have it stick together. Let cool. Store in fridge in covered container until cold.

Step 5: prepare the filling which is essentially a drier meat sauce than you would make for spaghetti.
I fry the ground beef until all the water has evaporated and the meat is nicely browned. I then remove from pan and add onions to same pan until  lightly browned then return meat. I add the garlic, crushed tomatoes, parsley, basil, Italian seasonings, 1 tsp of sugar salt/pepper and cook until almost dry.Taste it. Adjust seasonings as necessary.

Step 6 : take the cold risotto and add grated Parmesan cheese and 1 egg. Roll into a ball- I make mine with an ice cream scoop so they are all the same size. I then hold the ball in my hand and press the middle to form a cup. Place some of the meat filling and a piece of mozzarella in centre and carefully add more rice to cover and seal. They are delicate be gentle while forming.

Step 7: continue until all rice is used. I made 9 balls with lots of meat sauce left over. I will show you what to do with that in a bit. Put in fridge to firm up approx 1/2 hour.
Step 8: Create a 3 part breading station. In one bowl whisk 1 or 2 eggs, in another a plate of flour and in the last one a plate with breadcrumbs. I like to flavour the breadcrumbs with some Italian seasoning 2 tsp and some grated Parmesan cheese 1/4 cup or more if you like.
Start by rolling balls in flour to coat, then dip in egg, then breadcrumb mix. Do this gently and press the breadcrumbs on to balls to get a nice coating and to seal in fillings. Let rest in fridge for 1/2 hour to firm up before frying. This is also give you time to make the sauce with the remaining filling you have.

Step 9: take an additional small can of crushed tomatoes and in a small pan add dry filling mix and sauce. Add additional water as necessary to thin out. Taste and add salt/pepper as necessary. This can be served with the rice balls.

Step 10: in a deep fryer or a deep, heavy pot fry balls at 350 degrees in an oil with a high smoke point like canola or grape seed. Be careful frying and always have a lid ready in case of a fire. I usually fry in a large deep pot with enough oil to cover the balls up halfway. I turn until browned and cooked

Serve hot with hot sauce on the side.

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