The stereotype that life for Italians evolves around food is one that I can confirm with confidence is true in every sense of the word! As a child from a large Sicilian family growing up in the UK, I spent almost every summer on the beautiful island.
I have fond memories cooking these foods with my grandmother (or nonna as we say in Italian) when we were back in Manchester and missing Sicily. It was a way for us to connect with our roots and feel Sicilian again.
By sharing these delicious authentic recipes from my childhood, I hope to bring a little taste of sunny Sicily to your plate and most importantly a smile to your face!
Arancini Siciliani – Sicilian Arancini
Arancini have acquired their name based on their appearance. As they have a spherical shape and golden colour, they resemble oranges. The word itself translates to ‘little oranges’. However, traditional Arancini they are not as small as they sound and also come in a cone shape!
These orange balls are one of Sicily’s most identifiable dishes and are cherished throughout the island and beyond. In Sicily you will find them in pretty much every place that serves food whether it is a street food vendor, a bar or a restaurant.
In my opinion, you will find the tastiest Arancini on street food stalls or in small bars. That’s Sicily for you! They are so popular mainly due to them being inexpensive and filling.
One Arancino can cost as little as one Euro! They consist of a ball of sticky rice that is stuffed with a variety of different fillings which is coted in breadcrumbs and fried.
Examples of fillings are ham and cheese; aubergine and tomato; spinach and cheese; and even squid ink! There’s really a flavour for everyone. Although, the most traditional and overall favourite has to be the ragù Arancini.
This filling is a rich tomato sauce with minced meat, peas and cheese. They are often eaten as a snack and are considered a quick and easy to eat street food. As with almost every single Italian and Sicilian recipe there are slight variations from family to family, but this fun recipe is almost certain to please anyone!
Some Key Info!
- This recipe scored 4.2/5 as voted for by 364 Italians
- 628 Calories per Arancino (I know, but they’re super tasty)
- Difficulty: Average
- Preparation Time: 60 Minutes
- Cooking Time: 45 Minutes
- Number of Portions: 12 Arancini
- Cost: Low
- You can swap out the red wine for a non-alcoholic alternative
- You can make it vegetarian by not including the minced pork or swap the pork for another type of meat
For the Rice:
- 1.2L Water
- Pinch Fine Salt
- 500g White Risotto Rice
- 1 Sachet Saffron
- 30g Butter Cubed
- 100g Parmesan Cheese Grated
For the Ragù Filling:
- 25g Butter
- 20ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Small Onion Diced
- 100g Minced Pork
- 50ml Red Wine
- 200ml Tomato Passata
- Salt to Taste
- Pepper to Taste
- 80g Peas
- 50g Mozzarella Cheese Cubed
For the Batter:
- 200g 00 Flour Sifted
- Pinch Salt
- 300ml Water
- Fine Breadcrumbs
- Any Seed Oil
1. Boil the rice in salted boiling water until the water has been absorbed. Cook for a further 15 minutes then stir in the saffron, butter and cheese.
2. Transfer the rice mixture onto a large thin tray and level it out. Cover with cling film and leave to cool completely.
3. In the meantime, add the butter and olive oil to a pan and cook the onion until soft. Add the pork and brown it over a high heat then add the wine and evaporate it.
4. Stir in the passata and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes. Add the peas 10 minutes in and a little hot water if the ragù is looking very dry.
5. Fill a bowl with water to moisten your hands when forming the Arancini. Use 120g of rice per Arancino, forming each one with your hands into a ball with a well in the centre.
6. Put a teaspoon of ragù and two cubes of mozzarella into the well then cover with rice and form a sealed cone shape. Do this until all of the rice has been used.
7. In a bowl whisk the flour, salt and water until smooth and lump free.
8. Carefully dip the Arancini into the batter individually ensuring each one is fully covered then roll in the breadcrumbs.
9. Fry each Arancino individually or fry two at a time in the oil at 170 degrees until they are golden brown. Then place them on a tray lined with kitchen paper to drain off the excess oil. Enjoy them while they’re still hot!