Arancini are a deep-fried, Sicilian specialty made from bread crumb-covered rice balls and stuffing. They can be crafted from plain rice or risotto that is specially prepared or one day-old. The stuffing can be made from any number of ingredients, such as mozzarella cheese, meat and tomato sauce, mushrooms, eggplant, peas, or a combination of any of the above. Arancini make great snacks, antipasti, or a hearty addition to a tossed salad. They are best enjoyed fresh out of the fryer.
Arancini requires a great deal of preparation. The ingredients must be ready beforehand and assembly takes about an hour. First, the risotto or plain rice must be prepared and allowed to simmer until it absorbs all of the water or stock. This will take about 30 minutes to one hour. Then the rice must be allowed to cool. During this time, the filling can be prepared. Set aside a bowl of flour and beat two eggs. Place the bread crumbs in a separate bowl.
Use moist hands, take a handful of risotto and roll it into a ball approximately 1 – 2 inches in diameter. Flatten the ball, make an indentation in the center, and place a piece or a spoonful of whichever filling you select in it. Roll the rice back into a ball, dip it quickly into the flour for a light coating, then into the egg, and finally into the bread crumbs. The arancini are now ready to be fried. Pour enough vegetable oil into a heavy, deep saucepan or a wok until it is about two inches deep. Heat the oil until it is about 360 degrees. Drop the arancini into the oil in batches and allow them to fry until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel to drain. Let rest for about two minutes and serve piping hot.
Many varieties of seasoning can be added to the rice, the tomato sauce, or even the bread crumb coating. If the arancini is made using risotto, further seasoning of the rice is unnecessary. Your favorite herbs can be sprinkled into the tomato sauce, and salt, pepper, or even paprika can be added to the flour coating, depending on how adventurous you feel.
Arancini has recently become more popularized outside of Sicily due to Italian author Andrea Camilleri. The main character of his popular detective novels, Inspector Montalbano, is an avid fan of the dish.