Italian cuisine is varied and even more segmented by region and arancini or rice balls, are specific to Sicily. Mostly used as appetizers but could work as a first course as well.
There are many variations of arancini but we will stick to the basic one with prosciutto and mozzarella filling.
- 1 Saffron sachet ( * )
- 30 g Butter
- 500 g Vialone nano rice
- 1 pinch of Salt
- 1.2 l Water
- 100 g Seasoned caciocavallo cheese to be grated
For the sauce stuffing
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Half an onion
- 25 g Butter
- 100 g Minced pork
- Extra virgin olive oil to taste
- 200 ml Tomato puree
- 80 g Peas
- 50 g Fresh caciocavallo
- 50 ml Red wine
For the stuffing
- 30 g Cooked ham in a single slice
- 60 g Mozzarella
- For the batter
- 200 g 00 flour
- 1 pinch Salt
- 300 ml Water
Breading and frying
- Breadcrumbs to taste
- Seed oil to taste
To prepare Sicilian arancini, we start by boiling the rice in 1.2 litres of salted water.
Once cooked, the water should have been completely absorbed (this will allow the starch to remain completely in the pan and you will get very dry and compact rice).
Cook for about 15 minutes, then dissolve the saffron in very little hot water and add it to the cooked rice.
Add the butter cut into pieces.
Add the grated cheese, mix everything well, then pour and level the rice on a large, low tray and cover it with cling film to allow it to cool completely.
The cling film will prevent the surface of the rice from drying out. Let the rice rest for a couple of hours outside the refrigerator.
Meanwhile, start on the ragù filling.
Peel and finely slice the onion. Simmer the chopped onion in a pan with tablespoons of oil and the butter, then add the minced meat; let it brown over high heat, then add the wine and let it evaporate.
Add the tomato puree, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook over a low heat covered for at least 20 minutes.
Halfway through cooking, add the peas (if necessary you can add very little hot water because the ragù must be well thickened and not liquid).
While the peas are cooking, cut the caciocavallo, the cooked ham and the mozzarella into cubes.
Once the rice has cooled completely, you can form the arancini.
To help you with the formation, keep a bowl full of water nearby so you can moisten your hands.
Take a couple of spoons of rice at a time (about 120 g of rice), crush the small pile in the centre of your hand forming a bowl and pour a teaspoon of ragù filling inside, add a few cubes of caciocavallo.
Then close the base of the arancini with the rice and shape it into a pointed shape.
You can give this shape to all the arancini filled with ragù.
For the ham filling, fill each arancino (made up of approximately 130 g of rice) with diced ham and mozzarella.
Now that you have all the arancini ready, prepare the batter: into a bowl pour the sifted flour, a pinch of salt and the water. Mix carefully with a whisk to prevent it from mixing they form lumps.
Then dip the arancini, one by one, into the batter taking care to cover them entirely and roll them in the breadcrumbs
Heat the oil in a saucepan and bring it to a temperature of 170°, at which point fry one arancini at a time or a maximum of two so as not to lower the temperature of the oil.
When they are golden brown you can drain them by placing them on a tray lined with absorbent paper.
Serve the Sicilian rice arancini piping hot!