Sicilian Arancini

Arancini Sicilian, are stuffed rice balls which are coated with bread crumbs and then deep fried. They are usually filled with ragù (meat and tomato sauce), mozzarella, and peas. I had to make this dish on my return from Sicily, I wanted to make food so authentic after I travel it give me so my inspiration to cook more.


For the Rice
300 g short-grain rice (Vialone Nano, Carnaroli or Arborio)
1⁄4 teaspoon crushed saffron
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
4 teaspoons unsalted butter
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Meat Sauce and Filling
1 tablespoon olive oil
Small chopped sweet white onion
3 tablespoons finely chopped carrot
3 tablespoons finely chopped celery
85 g ground beef
85 g ground pork
30 ml dry red wine
2 teaspoons tomato paste
237 ml tomato passata
1/3 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)

For the Rice Balls
125 g fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup water
Pinch salt
500g breadcrumbs
Neutral vegetable oil for frying

To make

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, place the rice, saffron and water. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. 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.

Meat Sauce and Filling

First, you’ll start with a classic soffritto: Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and sauté, stirring often, until softened and the onions are translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the ground beef and pork and fry, stirring often, until browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the wine and let cook until the alcohol aroma has reduced, about 1 minute.
Stir in the tomato paste and tomato purée, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
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 too liquidy.
Transfer the filling to a bowl and set aside to let it cool.

Assemble and Fry the Arancini

Once the rice and filling are completely cooled, start shaping your rice balls.
Place 1 heaping 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, 1 to 2 small cubes of diced fresh mozzarella (if using), and then gently close the rice around the filling to form either a round ball shape or a cone/pear shape.
When all of your arancini have been formed, 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 in the breadcrumbs until evenly coated.
At this point, you can refrigerate your arancini for 20 to 30 minutes to let them firm up, if they seem a bit too loose or liquidy. If not, you can go directly to frying.
Heat about 2 inches (5 cm) of neutral frying oil to 182 C. Fry your arancini in batches of just 2 to 3 at a time until they are evenly golden-brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer them to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and serve hot.