Sicilian arancini, the true and original recipe

conical-aranciniWell, my dear Sicily lovers, here you’ll find the true recipe of the Sicilian arancini, a famous and tasty snack you can also eat during your travel to this beautiful island. This dish is also called rice balls or arancine, but anyway, it is known also as arancini all over the world. This recipe is prepared with arborio rice stuffed with meat sauce, namely ragù, peas, hard boiled eggs and Parmesan. Rice is usually mixed with saffron and filled with meat sauce. Many recipes say that you can also rub the external surface of arancine on the sauce, but this is not the true recipe.

Also called street food, because it is usually eaten at the Sicilian bars and restaurants, arancine can also be prepared at home. These have a round shape in the district of Palermo, while in the districts of Messina and Catania, they have a conical shape. These tasty rice balls were introduced in Sicily by the Arabs. Indeed, they were a typical recipe of the Middle East. The rice balls are nowadays one the most appreciate Sicilian street foods and if you can’t eat them in Sicily, you can also follow this recipe to make and eat them at home.

How to prepare Sicilian arancini
arancini-with-raguAnd so, to prepare the Sicilian arancini, you need rice, meat sauce, peas, Parmesan and hard boiled eggs. If you want, you can also add saffron. To prepare arancini, you can also take 48 hours, because you must do two different preparations. You must boil rice first, and then prepare the meal sauce with peas. You can also utilize the risotto with mushrooms you left in the previous day, but it is better to boil fresh rice. Prepare the pot with water and add rice and salt. Boil rice for twenty minutes, at least, then let dry it for likewise minutes and in the meanwhile, prepare meat sauce. Into a pot, add chopped meat, oil, onions, salt and brown for a few minutes. Then, add tomato sauce, peas and chopped basil and stir the mixture until when it is dense. Turn off the flame after you noticed the sauce is dense and let it cool. Now, come back to boiled rice and pour it in a pan with oil, broth for the risotto, add saffron and Parmesan and stir for some minutes until when the mixture is dense. Let it cool, also, as you did with meat sauce with peas. As soon as they became hard and cold, start to shape and stuff the rice balls.

Beware: many people fill the rice balls with hands, but this way does not work because these rice balls break soon after. Use an openable tin to be filled with rice. Buy the one with a round or conical shape. After adding the rice, make a hole in the middle, and fill with meat and pea sauce, cheese and hard boiled eggs. Put the tins into the fridge until when arancini become very hard and cold. In the meanwhile, prepare a dish with breadcrumb, one with beaten eggs and one with flour. Pull the tins out the fridge, open them and start to rub the hard and cold rice balls in flour, beaten egg and breadcrumb. Take a pot filled with oil and put arancini into it. Fry them until when they become orange. Don’t fry too much because arancini become too brown, extract them from the pot as soon as they became crisp. After all this, you’ll be ready to eat your tasty Sicilian arancini.

arancini-with-pistachioThere are many versions of this recipe. Indeed, arancine can be fried or baked. Instead to fry, you can put them into the oven for a few minutes at a temperature of 150 degrees . The Sicilian arancine can be also prepared without meat sauce, but also with cooked ham and butter. In Sicily , there are also arancini with pistacchio ( pistachio) ( see the image), arancini with spinaches and sweet arancine, namely rice balls stuffed with chocolate or cream, but the latter is not the true recipe of the Sicilian arancini.

4 thoughts on “Sicilian arancini, the true and original recipe

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  2. Jason Zado


    Interesting, I am Sicilian myself but I use the hand-rolling method when making the Rice Balls. What I’ve been taught and have experienced is that if the wrong type of rice is used (I only use Arborio), or if the rice isn’t cooled down enough and if you don’t dip the hands beforehand in cold water for each ball that you form, then the rice balls will not form well and are more prone to falling apart.

    I’ve never used tins or found any suitable containers to use, but is it easy to get them out when you stuff them so tightly at first to form the ball?

    I’m guessing it would create a more uniform shape. But I still do it the old school way.

    1. Rosalba

      Hi Jason, thanks for appreciating my article about Sicilian arancini and for your kind suggestions. They are very useful.
      Yes, the containers are used to give the rice ball a more uniform shape. However, they are often used by skilled chefs because it is hard to pull the balls out without the risk to break them. Indeed, like you, I always use the traditional method to prepare this recipe.

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