Arancini, which are soft, cheesy, and crispy fried rice balls, seemed to be sold everywhere in Sicily. We could buy them for breakfast, lunch, or in the late afternoon. Sicilian arancini are the perfect finger food because they have creamy rice, a variety of tasty toppings, and melted cheese all in a small fried package. I can’t think of anything else you could serve at your next dinner party with cocktails.
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WHAT DO ARANCINI LOOK LIKE?
Arancini are made from cooled risotto that has been left over. They are usually filled with a simple meat sauce called ragu and a piece of mozzarella cheese. The risotto balls are then covered in crunchy breadcrumbs and deep-fried until crisp. This warms up the risotto and melts the mozzarella cheese. The best thing about arancini is the way it feels. The contrast between the crunchy outside and the soft inside is hard to resist.
Sicilian rice balls are usually filled with meat sauce (I like to use homemade Bolognese sauce because it’s so good), but you can keep things simple by stuffing them with mozzarella or adding flavor to the risotto you’ll be using. When I was in Sicily, the best arancini I had were made with pistachio risotto. It was such a luxurious bite. I also like to add a lot of lemon zest to risotto. Citrus is a nice contrast to the otherwise rich flavors and textures because it is sharp.
WHAT DOES ARANCINI MEAN IN ENGLISH?
The word “orange” is short for “arancia,” which is where the word “arancini” comes from. The name “arancini,” which means “little orange,” comes from the shape and color of the food.
WHAT KINDS OF CHEESES GO INTO ARANCINI?
Mozzarella cheese makes the gooey middle of Sicilian rice balls. You can cut mozzarella into cubes to put in arancini, or you can use mini bocconcini, which come in small balls that are easy to put into cold risotto.
Parmesan cheese is added to the risotto that is used to make arancini. For the best taste, I like to use Parmigiano-Reggiano that has been aged.
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HOW TO FORM AN ARANCINI
It’s easy to work with cold risotto. Even though making arancini and getting them ready to fry takes a few steps, you’ll breeze through the process if you set up your workspace well.
Quick tips on how to shape Sicilian rice balls without making a mess:
- Wear gloves or cover your hands with plastic wrap when you work with the risotto rice. You can wear disposable gloves to keep your hands from getting too sticky. You could also put the risotto on a square of plastic wrap and use the plastic wrap to help shape the arancini balls. You can shape all of the arancini with the same square of plastic wrap to cut down on waste.
- Use an ice cream scoop to divide the risotto up quickly: With an ice cream scoop, it’s easy to measure out the same amount of risotto for each arancini ball, so they will all be the same size. This makes the risotto balls look nice, but what’s more important is that it lets them all fry at the same rate.
- Take a handful of cold risotto, which is about 1/4 cup (60 ml), and roll it into a small ball in the palm of your hand.
- Make a hole in the middle of the ball and put 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of meat sauce in it, if you want to.
- Place a piece of mozzarella cheese or a mini bocconcini on top of the sauce.
- With both hands, gently shape the rice so that it completely covers the meat sauce and cheese. Slowly close your hands over the rice ball to make it perfectly round.
CAN YOU MAKE SMALLER ARANCINI?
Traditional Sicilian arancini are about 2.5 inches (5 cm) across, which is why they are called “small oranges.”
It would not be a sin at all to make arancini in bite-size pieces. This works especially well when you don’t use any filling. The result is a dish that tastes a lot like the Roman suppl, which is a smaller fried rice ball. Even so, arancini and suppl are related.
It makes a lot of sense to make arancini bite-sized, especially if you want to serve them as part of a variety of finger foods at a cocktail party. To make bite-sized arancini, I would make the risotto extra-cheesy (since you won’t be stuffing it with extra cheese) and roll about 1.5 tbsp of risotto into balls. Make sure to change the time you fry for bite-sized arancini because they will cook much faster.
IF YOU DON’T HAVE A FRYER, CAN YOU STILL MAKE ARANCINI?
You certainly can. I don’t have a fryer, but I make arancini more often than I’d like to admit!
If you don’t have a fryer, you have to be extra careful when making arancini: Use the biggest pot you have, make sure the oil doesn’t go higher than the bottom third of the pot (you only need 3 inches/8 cm of oil to fry arancini properly), and never, ever, ever leave the stove while the oil is hot. I strongly suggest clipping a deep-fry thermometer to the side of the pot to make sure the oil stays at the right temperature. You can get a good deep-fry thermometer for less than $10. This is a small investment that will make you safer in the kitchen.
CAN ARANCINI BE BAKED INSTEAD OF FRIED?
You can bake arancini instead of frying them, but if you do, I’d suggest making bite-sized ones instead of the larger ones that are usually made. Arancini that are smaller will cook faster and get crispier than ones that are bigger. Arancini that are baked won’t get as crispy as those that are fried, but they will still taste great.
Set the oven to 425°F (220°C) to bake arancini. Wrap aluminum foil around a baking sheet. Use cooking spray to grease the foil. 1.5 tsp of risotto is used to roll arancini, which are then dredged in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs as the recipe says. Place the arancini balls on the baking sheet that has been set up, and then spray them all over with cooking spray. Bake the arancini for 20–25 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. If you want the arancini to be more colorful, you can broil them for a minute or two at the end of the cooking time.
CAN ARANCINI BE MADE AHEAD OF TIME?
Yes, you can. Follow the recipe to make and fry the Sicilian rice balls. Put the fried arancini on a cooling rack and let them cool until they are room temperature. Store in a container that won’t let air in and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
HOW TO COOK RANCINI
It’s easy to warm up rice balls from Sicily that have been in the fridge. Before serving, put the arancini on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and heat them in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
CAN ARANCINI BALLS BE FROZEN?
Fried or baked arancini shouldn’t be put in the freezer. The process of freezing and thawing could make the filling and rice too watery, which could make the arancini lose their shape and/or never get back to how crispy they were before.
You can still make the rice balls, but you won’t be able to dredge them. The “naked” rice balls should be put on a baking sheet and frozen until they are hard. Move to a container with a lid and freeze for up to one month.
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED
For the rice dish,
- 2 ¼ cups chicken stock, or vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 oz risotto rice (Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano)
- 2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1 cup)
- 1 large egg
For the middle
- 1/2 cup leftover Bolognese sauce or any other thick meat sauce
- 14 cup thawed frozen green peas 12 cubes or balls of mozzarella
- For cooking the arancini
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups of dry, small breadcrumbs
- 2 cups vegetable oil
- To serve Aoli or tomato sauce (garlic mayonnaise)
How to make risotto:
- Bring the broth and olive oil to a boil in a large pot. Stir in the rice, bring the pot back to a boil, and then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook the rice, uncovered, for about 12 minutes, until it is al dente (tender but firm). When the rice is done cooking, use a colander to drain off any extra water (any remaining liquid should be thick, heavy cream-like). Gently stir the rice in the colander to get rid of any extra liquid. Spread the rice out on a baking sheet and let it cool until it is room temperature. You can also put the rice in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
- When the rice is cool, put it in a large bowl and mix in the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and the egg.
Get the sauce ready:
- Warm up the Bolognese sauce or another meat sauce of your choice, then mix in the peas. Set aside.
Prepare your workspace:
- Set the bowl of risotto, the meat sauce, and the cheese cubes in front of you in an assembly-line fashion. Set a baking sheet close by so you can put the rice balls on it as you make them. Take out a large ice cream scoop if you have one. This will help you measure out exactly 14 cup (60 ml) of rice for each arancini. If you want, you can wear disposable gloves because it can get a little messy.
How to make the little balls:
- Make a small ball with 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the rice mixture in the palm of your hand. Make a well in the middle of the ball and put about 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the meat sauce in it. Put a ball of bocconcini or a cube of mozzarella in the middle of the sauce. With both hands, gently shape the rice so that it completely covers the meat sauce and cheese. Slowly close your hands over the rice ball to make it perfectly round.
- Use the rest of the risotto and meat sauce to make more arancini. Once you’ve made all the arancini, put them in the freezer for 20 minutes. This will help keep them round while they fry.
Put the arancini in a bowl:
- Put three shallow bowls on the surface you’re working on. Put the flour in one bowl, the two eggs in another, and the breadcrumbs in the last bowl. Set up a second clean baking sheet near the first one so you can put the rice balls on it as you coat them in flour.
Coat one rice ball all over with flour.
- Remove any extra flour. Roll the rice ball in the beaten egg to coat it, letting any extra egg drip back into the bowl. The last step is to roll the rice ball in the breadcrumbs and lightly press it so that the crumbs cover the whole thing. Place on a baking sheet and do the same with the rest of the rice balls.
- Fry the arancini: If you want to serve the rice balls as soon as you make them, heat the oven to 200°F (95°C) or the lowest setting to keep them warm while you fry them. Double up the paper towels and put them on a baking sheet.
- Pour enough vegetable oil into a big stockpot so that it comes up the sides about 2 inches (5 cm). Depending on the size of the pot you’re using, you may need to add more oil. Add more oil if you need to.
- If you have a thermometer, put a deep-fry thermometer in the oil and heat it to 375°F (190°C) over medium heat. (If you don’t have a thermometer, follow the steps below to check the temperature.) Once the oil is at the right temperature, keep an eye on it and adjust the heat under the pan so that the temperature stays the same as you fry.
If you are not using a thermometer:
- Dip a small piece of rice into the oil to find out how hot it is. It should sizzle in a steady but lively way. If nothing happens, the oil is not hot enough. If the oil around the breadcrumb coating boils and sputters, the oil is too hot. Change the heat as needed.
- When the oil is hot enough, carefully drop two or three arancini into it. Don’t put too many in the pot. Fry, turning with tongs or a slotted spoon as needed, for about 4 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp on all sides. Put them on the baking sheet with the paper towels and put them back in the oven if you want to keep them hot. Fry the rice balls that are left.
You can make the arancini ahead of time by letting them cool to room temperature on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Once it’s cool, put it in a container with a lid and put it in the fridge. To heat something up again, heat the oven to 325°F (170°C). Place the rice balls on a greased baking sheet and warm them in the oven for 10 minutes, turning them once.
You can serve arancini hot or at room temperature. Sicilian rice balls are great as a snack or appetizer with tomato sauce or garlic mayo on the side, or as a main dish with a hearty salad.Print
How do you make sure that the arancini don’t fall apart?
Two eggs and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of grated Parmigiano are needed for about 2 cups of risotto or 16 arancini. If you’re worried about the balls falling apart, you can also add 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs at this point (either homemade or the store-bought, Italian-style ones).
What would you say about an arancini?
People asked for a picture of Arancini balls.
Arancini (UK: /aerntini/, US: /r-/, Italian: [arantini], Sicilian: [aantn, -di-]) are stuffed, breadcrumb-covered rice balls that are a staple of Sicilian cuisine. They are similar to kibbeh, which is a dish from the Middle East.
How can arancini be made ahead of time?
AHEAD-OF-TIME TIPS: If you want to make the arancini ahead of time, just fry them and let them cool to room temperature on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Once it’s cool, put it in a container with a lid and put it in the fridge. To heat something up again, heat the oven to 325°F (170°C)
Is an arancini appetizer or a main dish?
Arancini balls are a tasty Italian dish that can be served as an appetizer or as the main course. They are made of rice, cheese, and meat, and there are different ways to cook them.
What do rice balls go well with?
Most Italian dishes go well with these deep-fried risotto balls. Depending on what’s inside, you can serve them with vegetables, salads, relish, or pasta. If you stick to traditional Italian tastes, you can’t go wrong.
More Alternative Rice Balls Recipes to try!
SEAWEED RICE BALLS
Jumeokbap, commonly known as seaweed rice balls, are prepared in about ten minutes with just five simple ingredients. They work well as appetizers, a side dish for spicy dishes, or for lunch bento.
KOREAN RICE BALLS (JUMEOKBAP)
Jumeok-bap, the Korean name for “rice ball,” literally translates to “rice clutched in the fist.”
Rice balls have been utilized as a portable, quick-to-eat meal that can be consumed on the go for ages. It has recently become a favorite dish among folks who are often on the go for a quick lunch outside the home.
Because they may be created with a variety of fillings, rice balls are adaptable. Rice, salt, sesame oil, and sesame seeds are a few of the most fundamental ones. But to make these rice balls more nourishing and full, you can add either or both meat and vegetables.