Arancini or arancine are fried rice balls coated with breadcrumbs, said to have originated in Sicily in the 10th century.
1kg / 2 lbs / 4 cups long-grain rice
800 g / 1-3/4 lbs minced (ground) meat
500 g / 1 lb peas
500 g / 1 lb / 5 cups dried breadcrumbs
300 g / 3/4 lb fresh caciocavallo or sharp provola cheese
100 g / 4 oz / 1 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
1 medium onion
7 – 8 eggs
2 tbsp tomato paste or 1 can tomato concentrate
125 ml / 4 fl oz / 1/2 cup dry white wine
oil for frying
Preparation time: 4 hours
1. Chop the onion and saute in a little oil in a frying pan until golden. Add the meat and stir. Pour in the wine and allow to evaporate. Dilute the tomato concentrate in hot water and add to cover the meat completely.
2. Season with salt, pepper and basil. Simmer gently for about an hour. Add the peas and continue cooking for about 30 minutes. Stand a colander over a saucepan, pour in the sauce and separate out the solids from the liquid.
3. Cook the rice in plenty of salted water in a saucepan and drain while still firm (it still has to be fried). Return to the same pan, pour over some of the sauce and stir, adding more if necessary (the rice must be barely coloured).
4. Add the grated cheese and stir. When cold, add 2 whole eggs and stir. Meanwhile, close at hand, get ready a bowl with the breadcrumbs, a bowl with the diced cheese, a bowl in which to beat the remaining eggs, the saucepan with the rice and a bowl with water to dip your hands into.
5. Turn some dry breadcrumbs onto large platters which will hold the “arancine’ once they are ready.
6. Take a small quantity of the cooked rice in your right hand and transfer it to your dampened left hand. Make a shell which you will fill with a little of the meat and peas and 2-3 pieces of cheese.
7. Close up the patty with some more rice and, still with your hands, shape it into an “orange”.
8. Egg-and-crumb-it, compressing it in both hands and place on the platter with the breadcrumbs. Continue until all the rice is used up. Deep fry in hot oil. To save on oil, I recommend using a not-too-large, deep sided pan, frying 3 or 4 patties at a time.