Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Arancini are from Sicily and they are fried little packages of rice with a surprise in the middle. We ate them on our vacation in Sicily two years ago and I thought what a fantastic lunch when you are on the go. In fact on further research I discovered that they were taken on hunting trips or long journeys by royal courts and eventually became a tradition for peasants working in the country. Whatever the origin, they seem to be a part of the daily routine of Sicilians now. On our vacation, the old men would show up at all the mom and pop delis for an afternoon snack. They are impressive to serve. Once my friend Carrie was at a dinner party here in Tuscany and when they brought out the arancini for the appetizer everyone made the ohhs and ahhs of a fireworks display.

Despite being mocked by a Sicilian once for making arancini this way, I still think this is the perfect way to use leftover risotto so I'm going to do it. Besides, other Italians do this, just apparently not if you are Sicilian. I once sat by a Sicilian man on the the train from Milan to Florence and he walked me through step by step how to make proper Sicilian Arancini. It took the whole train ride. They were a failure. The ones I made two weeks ago with leftover risotto were perfect and so much easier.

The classic filling is ragu and peas but you can put mozzerella and basil, spinach and mozzerella, just mozzerella. It works out perfect if you have some leftover ragu and you can just pop that in the middle of your leftover risotto! There is really no recipe to write down. You just take a ball of your leftover risotto in your hand and make an indent in the middle. (It helps to wet your hand first) Push your filling in the middle then close the rice around the filling so it is smooth and there are no holes in the risotto casing. Then dip the arancino into beaten egg, flour, back into the egg and then into very fine bread crumbs. You can form them into round balls or into more of a cone shape like the picture below.  Deep fry until they are golden all over about 4 minutes. If you have a fear of frying like I do see my tips on the Caponata post. I was so excited when mine turned out that I did a little dance. My boys were not impressed, but they are young teens so I don't even try to impress them right now.  I think you, however,  will be delighted with the results!

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