Arancini or Arancine are a typical specialty of Sicilian cuisine! A delicious street food loved all over the world!
Disagreement: arancina or arancino (singular) arancine or arancini (plural)?
In Italian, nouns end in a vowel and all nouns have a gender, even those that refer to quality, ideas, and things. Usually, Italian singular masculine nouns end in -o, while feminine nouns end in –a.
In Western Sicily people say “arancina” but in Eastern Sicily, they pronounce it as “arancino.” Eastern Sicily is, wrong, the correct term is arancina. Since it’s a rice ball with the shape of the orange (fruit) (arancia), the fruit is feminine, while the tree (arancio) from which it originated is masculine.
Moreover, since I belong to Western Sicily, I call them the name Arancine.
This dish evolved to what it is now thanks to the Arabs that controlled Sicily during the Saracen period. At first, it was a simple rice dish that was made of fragrant saffron rice, enriched with vegetable herbs and chunks of meat.
Normally it was served in a tray at the center of the table and everyone ate it with their hands. One day, the Arabs, wanted to bring it for a snack during their journey, so they made put the rice in a ball of bread dough and fried it so the consistency could withstand the transport.
The origin of the ragu inside of the arancina is tied to the discovery of the tomato in Europe.
In fact, this vegetable has monopolized Sicilian cuisine, becoming indispensable in most Sicilian dishes.
- 200g breadcrumbs (7 oz)
- 4 beaten eggs
- 100g grated Parmigiano Reggiano (3.5 oz)
- 150g mozzarella (cut in cubes) (5.3 oz)
- 1 kg Carnaroli rice (4 cups)
- 3 Lt. water (0.8 gal)
- 150g butter (10 tbsp)
- 35g salt (2 tbsp)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves
- 300g minced pork (10 oz)
- 300g minced beef (10 oz)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 250g grated Parmiggiano Reggiano or Caciocavallo cheese (8.8 oz)
- 200g frozen peas (7 oz)
- salt and pepper
- First, cook the rice.
- In a saucepan, mix the water with the saffron, salt, and butter (cut into pieces).
- When the saffron water comes to a boil, add the rice, lower the heat and cook until the broth is completely absorbed, stirring occasionally.
- Turn off the heat and let the rice cool.
- In a large pan, put onions, carrots, and celery finely chopped with olive oil.
- Let them fry for a few minutes, and add the pork and beef, cook for 10 minutes.
- When the meat is browned, turn up the heat, and deglaze with white wine.
- Let it evaporate, add the bay leaf and cloves then peas and tomato paste dissolved in a glass of lukewarm water.
- Add two more glasses of water, salt, and pepper, and cook over low heat for about an hour and a half.
- After it cools, remove the bay leaves, and when everything is warm add the cheese and stir.
- Once the rice has completely cooled (it will take at least a couple of hours), you can form the balls, to help form the balls keep a bowl filled with water near so you can wet your hand (makes it easier to handle the rice).
- Place some rice in your hand and flatten it into your cupped hand.
- Add a few cubes of mozzarella add the ragu meat filling and a teaspoon of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
- Form a ball, as big as an orange, compacting it well, to do this it is best to keep the hands well wet.
- Dip the rice ball in the beaten egg, or in a batter made from flour and water, and then roll them in the breadcrumbs.
- Preheat the oil until it is pretty hot.
- Dip arancine/i inside the oil, being careful not to burn yourself.
- Fry until the arancine/i turn golden.
- When golden, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to sop up any excess oil.