Arancini (Italian Rice Balls)

Arancini means “little oranges” in Sicilian and they can be found all over Palermo. Cooked and flavored Arborio rice is formed around a filling of tomato, meat and peas, coated in breadcrumbs and fried until golden brown. When I make them they’re about the size of a baseball,but you can make them slightly smaller. . Soft and crispy at the same time,they are a savory feast for the mouth.

Ingredients:

For the risotto:

  • 1 onion, finely minced
  • 4 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

For the filling:

  • 1 small finely diced onion
  • 1 small grated carrot
  • 1 small piece celery finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed to a pulp
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup marinara sauce (Reserve from the large pot you just made)
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced basil leaf
  • 1 teaspoon minced parsley
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 cup thawed frozen baby green peas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the coating:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup bread crumbs plain
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 3 eggs

Instructions

The rice:

  • Saute the onions in butter or margarine till translucent, add the rice and saute another minute then add the broth and cook the rice covered on low until done or as directed. Once the rice has cooled add the grated cheese. Cover set in fridge till cold. Rice can be done the day before.

The filling:

  • Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add the ground beef , and when it is almost browned, drain most of fat off, return to pot , add carrot and celery and cook another 5 minutes on a very low flame. Add thawed peas, marinara, parsley,basil, salt and pepper. Cover and leave to cook on lowest flame for 1 hour or until meat is tender. Cool down in fridge.This can be made the day before as well.

To prepare:

  • Place 3 tablespoons of prepared rice onto the palm of one hand, and flatten out. Place 2 tablespoon of meat filling on top of flatten rice, then another flattens pat of rice on top of filling.
  • Very gently press the rice down over the meat, cupping your hand to form a ball. (Note: If your hands become sticky at any point dip them again into water.)
  • Gently roll the arencini into a ball shape. Dip the arencini into flour, then eggs,then roll very well in breadcrumbs.
  • Heat fryer to 350 and gently fry the arencini until golden in color.Drain on paper towels.
  • Carefully plate the arencini and serve with marinara and garnish with grated cheese and a basil leaf. Serve hot.

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Arancini (Italian Rice Balls)