Arancini are originally from Calabria, Campania and Sicily. They are bigger than the Roman version, supplì, and are either round or cone-shaped, and often made from rice infused with saffron, which gives them their traditional yellow colour. A ragù sauce is spooned into the centre of the rice ball, rather than stirred throughout the rice (like supplì), so they need to be quite large.
Traditionally, the sauce would be a meat ragù with peas, but a quicker and equally tasty way is to make a sauce with good-quality pork sausage and peas or to make a thick pea and tomato sauce for a vegetarian version.
- 1 egg (if necessary)
- Rapeseed, peanut or sunflower oil for frying
Pea and tomato salsa
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic
- Pinch of chilli flakes
- ½ cup of frozen baby peas
- 15 ml, dry white wine
- 100 g tinned tomatoes, chopped
- ½ tbsp parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 500-750 ml beef stock (or stock of your choosing), plus extra if necessary
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp unsalted butter
- 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
- 200 g Carnaroli or Arborio rice
- 125 ml Dry white wine
- Pinch of saffron
- 40 g unsalted butter
- 25 g grated parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten with a dash of milk
- Plain (all-purpose) flour
- Fresh breadcrumbs
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
You will need to cook the risotto the day before making the arancini.
1. To make the tomato and pea salsa, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, then reduce the
temperature to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and chilli and cook until fragrant. Add the peas and cook for a few further minutes, then add the wine and increase the heat until the wine evaporates.
2. Reduce the heat to low again, add the tomatoes, then stir and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste, remove from the heat and stir through the chopped parsley. The salsa will keep in a ceramic or glass container, covered, in the fridge for 4–5 days.
3. To make the risotto, bring the stock to the boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and cook very slowly, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. The onion should become translucent and soft without taking on any colour. Add the rice and increase the heat to medium-high. Toast the rice for 1–2 minutes, then add the wine. Cook, stirring, until the wine evaporates, then reduce the heat to medium and add a ladleful of stock and the saffron. Continue to stir until the liquid is absorbed, then add another ladleful. Continue this process for 12 minutes.
4. Season with salt, to taste and taste the rice – it should be cooked through but still a little firm. Add a little more liquid and continue cooking, if necessary. When you are happy with the consistency and bite of the rice, remove from the heat and add the butter and parmesan. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge overnight.
5. Place the flour, egg mixture and breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls. With wet hands, grab a small handful of rice. Make a small well in the centre and place a teaspoon of your preferred sauce in the middle. Use a little more rice to cover the sauce. If the rice is not holding together, add a small egg to the rice mixture, mix well and try again. The arancini should be about 5 cm (2 in) in diameter and weigh about 55 g (2 oz). Repeat this process until all the rice has been used (you will have some leftover sauce).
6. Gently toss the arancini in the flour, then dip in the egg mixture and finally toss in the breadcrumbs. Double-crumb by dipping in the egg and rolling in the breadcrumbs a second time. This will give the arancini a crunchy outer layer and they will be less likely to fall apart when cooking.
7. Heat 5 cm (2 in) of oil in a heavy-based saucepan (or use a deep fryer) to 180°C (350°F). Test the temperature of the oil by dropping in a cube of bread. If it starts to turn golden in 5 seconds, the oil is ready. Cook the arancini in batches for 5–6 minutes, turning them regularly to ensure that they cook evenly. Drain on a kitchen towel and repeat with the remaining arancini. Set aside to cool for a couple of minutes and serve warm.
8. Although not traditional, you can also cook the arancini in a 200°C (400°F) oven for 25–30 minutes, turning regularly until golden.
This recipe is from Italian Street Food. (Smith Street Books). Photography by Paola Bacchia.