The arancini is a specialty of Sicilian cuisine. In fact, the word arancini in Italian means naranjita. It is a kind of croquette with rice as the main ingredient that have an orange color due to the use of saffron. It is served hot and is usually served as an aperitif, appetizer or as a snack and may be accompanied by a little salad to taste. The arancini is a typical dish of the city of Messina, where it probably originated, that were prepared on the island around the 10th century during the Ottoman empire.
The idea is to form a kind of rice ball stuffed with various ingredients. Depending on the region there are variations in shape and filling, but the most classic is ham, cheese, eggplant, ricotta, beef ragout, veal or a bolognese sauce, peas and mozzarella, although we could fill them with anything else and they would look great.
The pear-shaped arancini is typical of the area of Ragusa and with its shape make a reference to the Etna volcano. It is usually shaped like 8-10 cm diameter balls. Also, in Catania it is normal to find arancini with eggplant, also called alla catanese. The soft filling contrast with the crunchy exterior.
The fictional character Commissioner Montalbano, protagonist of a series of novels and short stories published by the writer Andrea Camilleri, usually tastes arancini and thanks to the book has been one of the main contributors to internationalize this dish. The commissioner goes through a thousand and one adventures to get arancini dinner on New Year's Day with the mother of one of his informants.
These rice balls are an icon in Sicily, where you can buy and eat arancini in all the bars and stalls, as well as in the rotisserie, very popular stores where, in addition to arancini, you can enjoy calzone or pizza.
Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Calories per serving: 155 calories per 100 gms
4 cups rice
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp garlic
150 ml wine
1 cup cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup parsley
Salt to taste
Place rice and 6 cups of water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a medium-low and cook covered, stirring often, until water is absorbed. Transfer to a large bowl. Set aside until completely cooled.
Heat butter in a large pan and fry rice with garlic until golden and fragrant. Add wine, saffron, and half of the water. Stir and simmer on low heat until the liquid is absorbed. Add remaining water, tomato, and salt. Stir until the liquid is absorbed. Stir eggs into rice. Mix in half of the cheese and transfer to a bowl. Leave until slightly warm.
Smash the mixture slightly and shape into 4 balls. Make a hole into each ball and fill with cheese. Seal the balls around the cheese and roll into bread crumbs. Heat oil in a frying pan and using a spoon, gently lower one rice ball at a time into hot oil. Fry the balls, until golden brown and crispy from all sides. Remove from the pan and place on absorbing sheet. Serve hot.