Arancini, the traditional Sicilian rice balls stuffed with tomato sauce, ground beef, cheese, and peas are one of those quintessential classic Italian meals. Arancini are the ultimate excuse for repurposing leftover rice, and they’re easier to prepare than you might think!
Spending our summers in Italy allows for me to watch the locals prepare homemade traditional foods, and learn authentic Italian recipes. Arancini are traditionally from Sicily and consequently aren’t prepared very often in Sardinia. Believe it or not, after preparing some vegetarian quinoa arancini for my mother-in-law, she was intrigued by the traditional recipe for arancini, having never prepared them herself. We made these outside on their veranda on a blistering hot day – good thing they’re super easy and quick to prepare.
How to make traditional arancini in a few easy steps:
1) Sautée about 400g of ground beef with tomato purée (just enough to coat the meat) and add (thawed) frozen peas for the last 5 minutes to heat through.
2) In the meantime, cook about 2.5 cups of arborio rice until al dente and chop 1/2 a mozzarella (the real kind, packed in water) into small cubes.
3) Let the rice cool then add 3 eggs and 1 1/2 – 2 cups grated Parmesan and mix until combined.
4) The rice should be sticky enough to form patties but not too wet to the touch.
5) Scoop up some rice (about 1/2 cup), roll around in the palms of your hands to form a ball.
6) Place the ball in the palm of one hand and with your opposite thumb, poke a large hole in the center. Fill with a few pieces of chopped mozzarella.
7) Layer the meat sauce over the mozzarella then fold the rice over the condiment until the rice ball is completely sealed.
8) Frying prep: Coat the arancini with the egg wash then the flour then repeat again with the egg wash and the bread crumbs. Coating them twice gives a crunchy crust and prevents the oil from soaking through the rice. Fry the arancini (in preferred oil) in a deep pan, turning a few times until crispy all over or cook them in a deep fryer. You’ll be surprised at how light and crispy they are!
Dinner was around 9:00 p.m. – a bit too late for my son to eat (besides he was already in bed) so of course, I set some aside for him for lunch the following day.
Have you ever made traditional arancini?