A simple arancini recipe that’s perfect for when you have leftover risotto, or when you don’t.
There’s one delicious crispy morsel that is having a golden moment right now. Arancini are enjoying somewhat of a revival. When Italia Regina got in touch to send me some saffron risotto rice to see if I liked it, I couldn’t resist making this Sicilian classic for my family to test it out.
A brief Arancini recipe history lesson
Arancini means “little oranges” in Italian. They’re mostly found in southern Italy, especially Naples and Sicily. During the festival of St Lucia, you can find hundreds of street carts in Palermo selling crispy arancini, still sparkling with oil.
Before I continue, it’s important to make sure our Italian grammar is up to the task of following this arancini recipe: “Arancini” refers to multiple “Arancino”, which is the singular. It’s always better to have arancini than an arancino, but you can only eat one arancino at a time rather than all the arancini. Let’s move on.
There are two main types of arancini. Pear-shaped arancini are filled with ragù and peas. The round arancini are filed with smooth cheeses like mozzarella or provolone (my favorite). There are so many ways to fill an arancino. There are even sweet ones smothered in chocolate! But the savory pear and round-shaped arancini are the most popular.
They’re made from leftover risotto that’s chilled overnight and rolled into handful-sized balls. Then poked with a pinch of mozzarella, breaded, and fried in oil until they turn a deep crunchy brown. It’s also traditionally served with a tangy arrabbiata sauce. What a way to make do with leftovers!
Arancini are most perfect served warm with the coating still crusty, and a big spoonful of tangy arrabbiata sauce. Expect generous mouthfuls of crunch followed by bright yellow saffron rice and creamy elastic mozzarella.
You can’t just have one of these little golden orange balls, which perhaps is the only negative. This is why it’s extremely important to make sure you make an awful lot. Any you don’t scoff can be eaten cold. Although there is nothing better than a warm arancino. Perhaps it’s better to just find some more friends to help you eat them.
And here’s the excellent part: they are very easy to make if you know a few secret tricks. The first secret is to keep your hands wet with water whilst encouraging the rice to form into a ball. The second is to make sure the rice has been in the fridge for an hour at the very least. The third is that if you don’t have leftover risotto, Italia Regina have the perfect solution right here. A ready-to-cook saffron rice with golden onions and full of flavour makes this recipe even easier. You simply just boil, stir and chill in the fridge until you’re ready.
Gather the following ingredients, and save this recipe for an arancini feast. This recipe serves roughly 20 arancini.
Easy Arancini recipe with Arrabiatta sauce
For the arancini
- 300 grams Dried Casa Rinaldi Saffron Risotto rice
- 2 medium balls mozzarella full-fat
- 300 grams dried breadcrumbs
- 3-4 large eggs
- 50 grams seasoned plain flour
- 500 ml vegetable or sunflower oil for frying
- 100 grams grated parmesan
For the arrabbiata sauce
- 1 onion medium diced
- 1 red pepper medium diced
- 2 anchovies
- 1 can sweet plum tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 red chilli finely diced
- 1 handful basil chopped
- 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
Make up the risotto rice as per the instructions. Or make up a white risotto with onions, garlic, vegetable stock, white wine, and thyme, adding saffron if you have it.
Put the rice into a bowl covered with cling film and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
Once the rice is chilled, mix 50 grams of the breadcrumbs and parmesan, and an egg with the rice, season, and wet your hands. Grab a large baking sheet.
With wet hands, form handful-sized balls, then squish them into a cup shape, add a pinch of mozzarella, and close them back up. Repeat until there is no rice left and you've filled a large baking sheet.
Put 3 dishes out: one of flour, one for beaten eggs, and one for the breadcrumbs.
Dunk each ball into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs mixed with the parmesan. Repeat for each. The parmesan will make the balls extra cripsy.
Get a high-sided pan on a high heat for 10 minutes until at least 220 degrees Celsius (or when you can drop a piece of rice in it and it's golden). Carefully lower each of the balls into the oil with a slotted metal spoon in batches of 3-4. Admire at how satisying it is to see the balls go golden and crunchy.
Drain off the excess oil for each on some kitchen roll and add a pinch of salt.
Serve with a bowl of arrabbiata sauce.
Arrabbiata sauce method
Fry off the onion, pepper, herbs, chili and anchovies in olive oil until the onions are translucent and the anchovies disappear.
Add the plum tomatoes, puree, balsamic vinegar and leave to reduce by half for an hour/hour and a half on a low heat.
Serve with the fresh basil stirred into a bowl with a spoon.