Without a doubt, the regional snacks of Sicily are arancine or arancini. These are deep-fried balls of rice, stuffed most often with a ragù (meat sauce) and peas, but also with other stuffings such as cheese. Arancini are everywhere in Sicily, and we liked them so much that we had them for lunch almost every day during our trip.
Arancini have been named after oranges (arancie), because they look so much like them. In the West of Sicily they have a round shape and are female (1 arancina, 2 arancine), whereas in the East of Sicily they are pear-shaped and are male (1 arancino, 2 arancini). This could mean that the eastern name is more ‘Sicilian’, because oranges are male in Sicilian (arànciu) contrary to female in Italian (arancia). I entitled this post arancine because I made round ones, but I like the sound of arancini better so that’s how I’ll call them.
After coming home, arancini were high on my list of Sicilian delicacies to prepare. They turned out to be relatively easy to make and very good. When we had arancini for lunch in Sicily, they had been lying in a display case for a while and were heated up in a microwave oven. This has an advantage that the flavors have the opportunity to blend, but the crust is not crispy. My homemade arancini were freshly deep-fried and thus very crispy. Next time I’ll make them earlier to allow the flavors to blend before deep-frying them. But even deep-fried straight away they were delicious!
200 grams (1 cup) rice (I used risotto rice, it should be sticky rice)
40 grams (1 1/2 oz) freshly grated pecorino (or parmigiano)
12 grams butter (1 Tbsp)
0.05 grams of powdered saffron
200 grams (7 oz) ground beef
160 ml (2/3 cup) beef stock
70 grams (5 Tbsp) single-concentrated tomato paste
80 ml (1/3 cup) full-bodied red wine
1 Tbsp olive oil
20 grams (1 small) onion
20 grams (1 small) carrot
20 grams (1/2 stick) celery
80 grams (1/2 cup) frozen peas
salt and freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil for deep frying
Cover the pot, bring to a boil, then lower the heat, and boil until the rice is cooked, about 10 minutes. If there is still too much water towards the end of the cooking time, remove the cover for the final minutes of cooking.
Simmer, uncovered, until the ragù is very thick, about 1 hour. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Again, the ragù should be slightly more salty than you think it needs to be.
Dip each arancino first in the beaten eggs and then in the breadcrumbs, making sure that they are covered completely with both of them.
Arrange the finished arancini on a plate, turning them around after a while to let the underside dry as well. You can store them like this in the refrigerator for a while to allow the flavors to blend, or deep fry them right away.