Before I start bragging about my arancini, there’s something you should know: the original recipe calls for a meat filling, called ragu’. Truth be told, a dire il vero, when I took a class on arancini with the great Signor Venero – a former cook at a local bar in my hometown – the first half of the class was actually dedicated to meat choice and preparation.
However, since I am not a meat lover – quite the contrary – and have 3 picky kids who like simpler foods, here is my revised recipe, la mia ricetta rivisitata. Besides, once you learn the process, you may actually fill your arancini with pretty much what you like. In fact, if you happen to travel to Catania, there’s a place where they even dare make shrimps or nutella filled arancini, no kidding!
Ingredienti (for approx. 22 rice balls):
- 500 gr. (or 1lb) Arborio rice – RISO
- 50 gr. (1.8 oz) grated parmesan – PARMIGIANO GRATTUGIATO
- 4 eggs – UOVA
- 150 gr. (5.3 oz) caciocavallo or provolone cheese – FORMAGGIO
- 350 gr. (12 oz) tomato sauce – SALSA DI POMODORO
- 115 gr. (4 oz) breadcrumbs – PANGRATTATO
- 85 gr. (3.0 oz) flour – FARINA
- salt – SALE
- frying oil – OLIO PER FRIGGERE
Start cooking the rice al dente in abundant salty water. Drain it, and let it cool. Meanwhile, dice the cheese you’ll need for the filling, and in 3 separate bowls place the flour, the beaten eggs and the breadcrumbs. Add the tomato sauce to the rice (make sure your sauce has a rich, tasty flavor), the grated cheese, one egg and stir. Now get ready to get your hands dirty! Preparatevi a sporcarvi le mani!
In the palm of your hand place a small quantity of the tomato rice, add the cheese filling in the middle, cover it with another part of rice and make it into a round shape using both your hands. Next, roll the rice ball in the flour, then in the eggs and eventually in the breadcrumbs. (I usually flour all of them and then move on to the next steps, so it doesn’t get too messy). Once you rice balls are all ready, heat the frying oil and fry them (they need to be fully immerged in oil, so I use a small pot rather than a frying pan). Let them cool and eat while still warm. With their crispy crust they are absolutely irresistibili, I can’t stop eating them!
PILLOLA D’ITALIANO: the noun arancini (or arancine, as they are usually called in other Sicilian towns) derives from the word arancia, Italian for orange, because their round shape and color resemble a small orange. The suffix –ino/a added to a word implies something is small. For example, gatto, cat, will be gattino for a kitten.
Enough with suffixes, right?