When I think of Sicilian cooking, one of the first things that comes to my mind is Arancini. Rice balls filled with meat and cheese and then fried, these are a classic example of Sicilian food. When I studied in Italy in 2006, I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Sicily for a week. My family hails from Palermo and Cefalu, so this was a dream come true for me. While I was visiting Palermo, I found tons of little restaurants selling arancini which they wrap for you so that you can enjoy your treat as you walk around the city without having to sit down and eat.
One of the streets in Palermo
This snack is also one of the dishes that my Nonna used to make. While I didn't get the chance to get to know my great-grandmother, I'm fortunate enough to have some of her recipes that have stayed in my family. That being said, I'm going to have to ask for some forgiveness from any of my relatives who may be reading. I did the unthinkable: I changed Nonna's recipe. While the bulk of it I left the same, I had to cut down on the amount of butter and salt in her original recipe. Since it was done in the name of health, I hope you all understand. Most of the time arancini is made using risotto rice such as Arborio rice. Since Nonna's recipe called for regular white rice though, I stuck with that. Arancini also often has peas mixed in with the meat that goes in the center of the rice ball. Again, I stuck with Nonna and left these out, though I did add a little mozzarella to the center of the rice balls. As you can see from my picture, I got a little excited and cut into the arancini before giving it a minute to sit. As a result, I squashed it a little when cutting it. The taste wasn't affected though - still delicious!
1 cup rice
1 beef bouillon cube
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons grated cheese (mozzarella or parmesan work nicely)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 pound ground beef
3-4 tablespoons marinara sauce
1/8 cup mozzarella cheese
3 beaten egg whites
Oil for frying
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the rice and bouillon cube to the water and cook until all the water has boiled away.
- Once the rice is finished, add the egg yolks, 3 tablespoons of grated cheese, and butter or margarine. Allow the rice to cool completely (you can stick the pot in the refrigerator if necessary).
- Brown the ground beef in a frying pan. Once brown, add the marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.
- Once the rice is cool, place a large spoonful of it into the palm of your hand. Form a well in the rice. Place a teaspoon of the meat mixture in the well and then cover with more rice. Press firmly to form a ball.
- Dip the rice balls in cracker meal, then into the egg whites and finally into the bread crumbs.
- Heat your oil over medium high heat. Fry the rice balls in the oil until golden brown. Remove from the oil and put on a paper towel to drain.
- Serve hot with extra marinara sauce.
Ryan'sSue's rating of Arancini - 5, but I guess I'm a little biased.