Arancini di risu (Sicilian Rice Balls)

January 29, 2010  |  By The International Kitchen
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Arancini di risu (Sicilian Rice Balls)

h2. April 2007

Arancini di risu (Sicilian Rice Balls)

A traditional Sicilian appetizer, these rice balls are a real treat! See our wonderful cooking vacations in Sicily for more on this enchanting, mysterious island.


* 500 gr (about 2 cups) Italian rice
* 3 eggs
* saffron (optional)
* 120 gr (about 4 oz) firm cheese such as provolone, cubed
* dried bread crumbs
* oil for frying
* meat sauce (see below)
* ½ cup shelled cooked peas


1. Prepare a simple meat sauce (ragù): sauté minced onions, celery and carrot until tender, then add ground meat (beef, pork, veal) and brown. Add a little red wine and let evaporate, and a little tomato sauce or paste and cook until there is very little liquid left. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in shelled cooked peas.

2. Boil the rice in lightly salted water until just tender. Drain, remove from pan, and work in 2 eggs and the safron (optional—you can also add some grated pecorino cheese if you like).

3. Wet your hands in a bowl of water and in the palm of your hand, shape a ball about the size of a tangerine or small orange, or a little smaller. Hollow out the middle and carefully add a little of the meat sauce and a couple cubes of cheese.

4. Carefully seal off the “orange” by pushing the filling in with your thumb while closing the rice over it with your other fingers. Be careful not to let the filling spill out. (You may add more rice if necessary to cover any “holes.”)

5. Roll the arancini in beaten egg and then the bread crumbs. Fry arancini, sumberged in a fryer, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm.

Note: Arancini may be made ahead of time and kept warm or reheated in the oven.

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