Arancini: What It Is, It’s History, and How To Make Them!

The island of Sicily is known globally for its cuisine. From Pasta alla Norma to ricotta-filled Cannoli, Sicilian food is known for its incredibly fresh ingredients and exciting flavors. One of the best-known Sicilian dishes is the humble yet delicious arancine ball. Offering a satisfying bite of rice, cheese and tangy ragù sauce, arancini is cheap and easy to make.

Let’s dive into what makes arancini special and the history behind them. 

What are arancini?

Arancini are small, savory street food snacks or antipasti. They are made with rice, the chef’s favorite cheese (typically Mozzarella) and homemade ragù sauce. 

Arancini aren’t just well-known for being delicious. There’s also much dispute about what they call them, made more dramatic by the fact that Sicilians are extremely passionate about their food. In Eastern Sicily, people call one of these balls arancino – the masculine form of the word. In Western Sicily however, particularly in the Palermo region, they refer to the snack in the feminine, as arancina.There, they believe that the word is feminine because the spherical-shaped snack reminded the creator of an orange (arancia in Italian).

However, Sicilian dialect refers to an orange as arànciu, a masculine noun, so the matter is still debated. To add a further layer of confusion to this dispute, many places in Sicily don’t prepare their arancini in perfect sphere shapes anyway, instead they favor a more pointy egg-like shape! 

What’s a good arancini recipe? 

One of the most popular arancini recipes is served with ragù sauce inside. This recipe yields about 20 arancine. 

Ingredients (for the filling):

  • 1.3 kg of Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • About three liters of vegetable stock
  • A white onion
  • 100g of butter
  • Two saffron powder sachets
  • 200g of caciocavallo cheese in chunks
  • Flour
  • Two egg whites and one yolk
  • Breadcrumb
  • Olive oil for frying

Method (for the rice):

This preparation should be done at least 12 hours before making your arancini. Prepare the stock and add the saffron. Fry the onion with the butter until it turns translucent. Add the rice and stock, stirring to ensure no rice forms clumps. Cook the rice until soft enough but still somewhat al dente. Transfer the rice onto a large plate to cool. 

Ingredients (for the ragù):

  • 400g of minced beef or soy mince to make it vegetarian
  • 100g of tomato paste
  • A white onion
  • 200g of peas
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Half a glass of white wine
Image result for arancini ragu mixture

Method (for the ragù):

Brown the onions and add the minced beef. Deglaze your mince with the wine and reduce the mince. Season it with salt and pepper to taste, and add your tomato paste with a splash of water. Boil your peas separately and add them to the cold ragù sauce.

Method (for the whole arancine ball):

arancino frit

Take a tablespoon of rice in the palm of your hand, flattening it into a disk. Add a tablespoon of your ragù and a cube of caciocavallo cheese. Then, add another tablespoon’s worth of the rice over your filling to encase it completely, pressing it gently to form a ball. Roll the ball in some flour, then in the egg to bind it. Lastly, roll the ball in your bread crumbs until it is evenly coated. Once prepared, fry the arancine in plenty of hot oil until it is golden brown. Repeat for each ball, and you’ve got yourself a delicious, hearty Sicilian antipasto!

An alternative to rolling by hand is to use the Arancinotto Arancino mould for either round or pointed shapes. Each Arancini produced will be consistent in size which makes it a much easier alternative. The mould can also be used for other types of foods such as meatballs or rissoles. Click here to buy!

Arancinotto Arancini Maker - Original Made in Sicily (Pointed Shape - 160  Grams arancini): Home

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