Arancine ( Deep Fried Sicilian Rice Balls)

If the gang at your football parties enjoy something a little special these balls of rice filled with meat sauce, breaded and deep fried will impress them. They are a popular Sicilian appetizer, first course or snack. While they take a little time to prepare, they can be assembled a day ahead and refrigerated then breaded and cooked when ready to serve. Arancine translates to “little oranges” which gives you an idea of the size of the end result.

The following recipe based on the 6 cups of cooked rice called for will make 12 Arancine.

Meat Filling
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic minced
1 small can tomato paste
½ cup red wine
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup frozen peas thawed

Heat the olive oil and saute onions & garlic until transparent. Add meat and brown well. Drain any extra fat. Add tomato paste, red wine and salt & pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid has evaporated and meat mixture is dry. Add the peas, stir well and set aside to cool and then refrigerate covered till ready to use.

Rice Mixture
6 cups cold cooked Italian Arborio rice or cold white wine risotto
2 eggs lightly beaten
½ cup Romano or Parmesan cheese grated

2 eggs beaten with 2 tablespoons milk
4 cups Italian or Japanese style panko breadcrumbs
vegetable or canola oil for deep frying

Mold 1/4 cup of rice mixture into the palm of your hand making an indentation with your thumb. Fill that with1 tablespoon filling. Cover the filling with another 1/4 cup
rice and shape into a ball , making sure that the meat is sealed inside the rice. Roll the ball in the beaten eggs and then bread crumbs.

Heat oil in deep-fat fryer or deep pan to 375 degrees. Fry balls until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Serve warm or room temperature with marinara sauce for dipping. Can be made vegetarian by substituting meat mixture with a ½ inch cube of provolone cheese or eggplant sautéed in olive oil and cooled before forming the balls.

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  2. I have made there before. There great.

  3. Never had these before … but, they look very Cave-friendly! 😉

  4. Mmmroooowww! Too bad we don’t have a party to attend this year. However, hubby will be perfectly happy parked in front of the boob tube. I might have to spoil him and make these….

  5. Your arancini look amazing. I adore them (though you can leave out the peas in mine) but don’t do much deep frying. Have made them for Easter and practically have to tie my hands behind my back so I don’t eat them all. Great job.

  6. Holy moly those look good!

  7. Kathy, these look great. We’ve had Italian deep-fried cheese balls the last two nights with fresh mozzarella and cacio cavallo. I didn’t even bother to ask the “chef” (my husband) what they’re called, but they are kind of a vegetarian version of your arancine. Warm, gooey food is perfect for these chilly winter nights. I love the idea of incorporating veggies, which we didn’t do, and your pics are great! Robin

  8. now you know anything deep fried gets my attention – these look amazing …. another perfect recipe

  9. I have to tell you we were thinking of the same things, last night I made exactly the same thing. I have the pictures ready to post, these put mine to shame for sure. I am not sure why other than I baked mine they came out so dry…these look fantastic…maybe it was the rice I am going to try yours since they are awesome looking….and not post mine lol yours are amazing!

      • lvegas
      • January 13th, 2010

      I know these can be baked, I’ve heard of other people baking them…but maybe it was your rice. I make a big batch of risotto (that isn’t too loose) and make sure I make enough to have 6 cups leftover for this recipe. Since the risotto has cheese & butter in it, that might help keep them moist.

  10. I would totally make these! I love rice balls! I bet it’s delicious even when they’re not fried! But the fried balls look so delicious, too!

  11. looks really scrumptious, I’ve never had this before, can’t wait to try the recipe

  12. Beautiful arancini! I have only made them with fresh mozzarella stuffed inside, but I love the idea of the meat & pea filling.

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