Sicilian Street Food: Arancini

 

Sicily is famous for its street food, from freshly cooked calamari to crisply fried panella. One of our favourite Sicilian streets are Arancini. Here is a short recipe to evoke the smells of Sicilian streets.


INGREDIENTS FOR ABOUT 12 BALLS

Saffron 1 tsp - (1 sachet)

Butter 2 tbsp (30 g)

Vialone nano rice 2 ¾ cups (500 g)

Fine salt 1 pinch

Water 5 cups (1.2 l)

Caciocavallo cheese 1 cup (100 g) - (grated)


FOR THE RAGÙ FILLING

Fine salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Onions ½

Butter 1 ¾ tbsp (25 g)

Pork 3 ½ oz (100 g)

Extra virgin olive oil to taste

Tomato puree ¾ cup (200 ml)

Peas 0.6 cup (80 g)

Caciocavallo cheese 1 ¾ oz (50 g)

Red wine 3 ½ tbsp (50 ml)


FOR THE HAM FILLING

Baked ham 1 oz (30 g) - (1 slice)

Mozzarella cheese 2 oz (60 g)


FOR THE BATTER

Flour 00 1 ¾ cup (200 g)

Fine salt 1 pinch

Water 1 ⅓ cup (300 ml)


FOR BREADING AND FRYING

Breadcrumbs to taste

Vegetable oil to taste




 

To prepare the arancini, start by boiling the rice in 5 cups (1.2 L) of salted boiling water so that when it’s cooked, the water will be completely absorbed (this will ensure that all of the starch remains in the pan and you’ll get a very dry and compact rice). Cook for about 15 minutes, then dissolve the saffron in a drop of hot water and add it to the cooked rice. Add the chopped butter as well. 

Add the grated cheese , mix well to combine everything, then pour the rice onto a wide, shallow tray, spread evenly, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to cool completely (the wrap will keep the surface of the rice from drying out). Let the rice rest for a couple of hours at room temperature. In the meantime, prepare your ragu filling, starting by peeling and finely slicing the onion.

Sweat the chopped onion in a pan with 2 tablespoons of oil and the butter, then add the ground meat. Brown over high heat, then add the wine and allow the alcohol to evaporate.
At this point, add the tomato puree and salt and pepper to taste, cover, and simmer on low heat for at least 20 minutes. Add the peas halfway through.
While the peas are cooking, cut the caciocavallo cheese, ham, and mozzarella into cubes. Now all your fillings are ready.

Once the rice has cooled completely (this will take at least a couple of hours), you can start shaping your arancini balls. Keep a bowl of water close by so you can moisten your hands to help you during the process. Taking a couple of tablespoons of rice at a time (around 120 g of rice), press the mixture into the hollow of your palm to form a shell, spoon in a teaspoon of ragu filling, and add a few cubes of caciocavallo cheese.

Next, fill in the base of the arancino ball with the rice, and shape it into a point. You can shape all of the arancini stuffed with ragu in this way.

Roll into balls. Now that you have all of your arancini ready, you'll need to prepare the batter. Pour the sifted flour, a pinch of salt and the water into a bowl. Mix thoroughly with a whisk to prevent any lumps from forming.
Next, dip the arancini into the batter one at a time, ensuring that you cover them completely, and roll them in the breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and bring it to a temperature of 340°F (170°C), at which point you can start frying your arancini, one at a time, two at most, so as not to lower the temperature of the oil. Once they are golden brown, drain them by placing them on a tray lined with paper towel. These arancini are definitely best served nice and hot!

 

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