Arancini di riso

“Arancini di riso” (or “arancine”, the female version, as used in Palermo), the pride of Sicilian cuisine, are small rice timbales, similar to oranges, served on a variety of occasions, as a single-course, appetizer or happy hour.

500 gr. Rice for risotto (Vialone Nano variety)
1 onion
100 gr. butter
1/2 glass white wine
Vegetable broth
Saffron, salt, pepper

200 gr. meat sauce
Mozzarella cut into cubes (optional)
Ham cut into cubes (optional)

Breadcrumb coating
2 egg whites
Bread crumbs
Peanut or sun-flower seed oil


Phase 1
The day before, prepare the meat sauce, so the mixture is malleable enough to make the rice balls. Chop some carrot, onion and celery and pan-fry in olive oil till lightly browned. Add the minced meat. When the meat is half-cooked, add the peas and the tomato sauce and cook on a low heat. Add salt and pepper to taste and leave to rest until the following day.

Phase 2
The next day, prepare the rice, starting with the vegetable broth: pour some water into a pot; add 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk and 1 onion and boil for 20 minutes. In a saucepan place 50 gr. of butter and a chopped onion and fry gently for 5-7 minutes. When the onion has released its flavour into the butter, filter the butter with a strainer and remove the onion. Put the butter back into the pan, raise the heat and add the rice. Toast the rice, mixing it into the butter until golden. Add white wine and let it reduce. Add sufficient vegetable broth to cover the rice and add more when it has been absorbed, repeating until the rice is cooked. Dissolve the saffron in a glass with a little broth and add in moderation to the rice. Add salt. Two minutes before the rice is fully cooked, remove the pot from the heat, add 50 gr. of butter and amalgamate, stirring from the bottom towards the top. When the rice has absorbed the butter, pour into a container and leave to cool.

Phase 3
Prepare a table with the container with the rice, the meat sauce, a soup bowl with the whipped egg whites, a large plate with salted breadcrumbs, a container for the finished arancini. Take a fistful of rice in one hand and lightly line the cupped palm of your other hand with the rice. Place a tablespoonful of meat sauce in the hollow that has been created. Use your free hand to take another small fistful of rice and use the back of your occupied hand to spread the rice so it lines the cupped palm of this hand too. Bring the two halves together by placing one hand over the over and create a ball. Use some additional rice to fill any gaps and pat the ball into a round shape. Place the rice ball in the plate with the egg whites and turn it over so it is well-covered ,then roll the ball in the breadcrumbs. Place the rice ball in a high-sided pan with enough very hot frying oil to cover half the rice ball. After frying, remove the arancini from the pan and place in a container on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.

Buon appetito!

For 12 arancini
Preparation time: 60 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes