Monday, March 15, 2010


Arancini means "little oranges" in Italian and these Sicilian treats are well loved and enjoyed by many. As is typical of Italian food each household has it's own particular version. This is my version adapted from the recipe given to me by my lovely Calabrian cousin. Her method of mixing part of the sauce through the rice is something I have never seen on another recipe and I believe it is the reason these arancini are the tastiest I have tried. 
Traditionally arancini are filled with ragu`, peas and mozzarella cheese. The ragu` can be your favourite or you can follow my recipe but keep in mind that the ragu` needs to be well made, with the best ingredients and very flavoursome. The ragu` is the make or break of your arancini and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  
These arancini are so popular in my family I am often requested to make them. I love the look of delight when my children follow their nose to the kitchen to investigate what I am cooking and discover their favourite is on the menu. This is also a great recipe to get your children involved in.
Now, first allow yourself at least three or even four hours to prepare this recipe because the rice really needs to cool down and the ragu` should be simmered long and slow. The ragu` can be prepared the day before to make it easier.
Begin with the ragu`. I always make a big batch and freeze the extra for a quick pasta meal.

Marcellina's Ragu`

1/3 cup olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped or minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
500g beef mince
500g pork mince
200 bacon
1/2 cup red wine
1.5 litres  tomato passata
800g tinned peeled tomato
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano ( or 2 tablespoons dried oregano )
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil ( don't substitute dried - it really has no flavour)
1/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves ( or 1 or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary) 
3 teaspoons ground allspice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup concentrated chicken stock (or 2 teaspoons chicken stock powder plus 1 cup water)
1 cup concentrated beef stock (or 2 teaspoons beef stock powder plus 1 cup water)
freshly ground pepper
salt to taste

To finish off:
1/2 cup of fresh or frozen peas

Heat the oil and fry off the onion and garlic. Once golden add the bacon followed by the minces. Stir and fry to brown, breaking up the meat well. Add the remaining ingredients along with a cup full of water. Bring to the boil then turn down and simmer slowly for 2 hours. Now, what I do is at this point is take 4 good cups of the ragu` and transfer this to a smaller pan with 1/2 cup peas. The remainder can be cooled and frozen for later use. The portion that has been removed is reduced for about 1/2 hour until it is thickened.Don't forget to taste as you go and adjust the seasoning. This I put into a coarse sieve over a small bowl to collect the excess sauce. You should have about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of liquid flavoursome sauce to add to your cooked rice.

Now to cook the rice. Are you still with me? Good, keep up, it's worth it!

Take 750g arborio rice and wash well and drain. In a large saucepan bring to boil 4 1/2 cups good chicken stock  add the washed rice, stir and bring back to the boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to the lowest cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 15 minutes. Don't be tempted to lift the lid. After the cooking time turn the heat off. Don't lift the lid! Let the rice sit for a further 10 minutes. After this time you should have perfectly cooked moist rice that clings together well. I cook on my largest gas ring then set the flame on the lowest  and also use a flame diffuser. Now tip your rice into a large flat baking dish  fold through 45g butter then leave to cool. Once at room temperature add two beaten eggs, 1 cup grated parmesan cheese and the sauce
strained off from your ragu`. Mix well.

It should look a bit like this.

You'll need 300g good mozzarella cheese cut into large cubes.


Now for the the messy bit and lots of fun. So, assemble all the components required and call the other members of your household in to join the fun.

Have ready rice, meat and cheese. Then beat 2 eggs with 1/2 cup milk in a shallow bowl and place lots of dried breadcrumbs onto a flat plate and you are ready to begin.

Wet your hands - this will make moulding the arancini easier. Take about a tablespoon of rice flatten the middle in the palm of your hand. Add a teaspoonful of meat and cube of cheese.

Add a little more rice on top while moulding the edges of rice around the filling. Press well together making sure no filling shows. Add more rice if necessary. With this quantity of rice you should get 26 or 27 arancini. Too many? Never too many arancini because they are delicious the next day heated slowly in the oven.

Pass it on down the assembly line ( hopefully you have a helper) dip the rice ball into the beaten egg mixture then roll in breadcrumbs pressing well.

Refrigerate your arancini for about 30 minutes.  Now, your almost finished. Stay with me!

Heat some light olive oil in pan to shallow fry as I do. You can deep fry if that's what you prefer. 

All that is left to do now is to bring them to the table and wait for the oooh's and aaah's as your family and friends tuck into the most flavoursome arancini anyone has ever tried!
I know you will enjoy them!  


  1. Marcellina..those are some of THE most beautiful and scrumptious looking arancini I've ever seen. That ragu is meaty, tomato perfection. I am actually drooling..I'm serious!

  2. Wow, Marcellina! Making arancini takes indeed time and effort, but the result is so rewarding! I can see the kitchen besieged by children eager to eat those delights.

  3. These look so great, and thank you for posting the recipe. A Brazilian friend was just telling me about something her Mother makes out of leftover rice, and I asked her if it was similar to arancini. There is a huge influence of Italian foods in Brazil... which I find so interesting!

    I want to try these soon!!

  4. Wow! I love arancini but never knew how much effort it required! Always assumed it was made with leftover rissoto, but now I know better. All the step by step instructions are so helpful. One weekend when I have a bit of time, I'll definitely give this a go :)

  5. Oh my goodness. These look so fantastic. I've never made these and had no idea they involved using a ragu' but your descriptions and photos are invaluable.

  6. I would oooh and aaaah over these too. They look crispy and delicious!

  7. I have never heard of arancini but they look fantastic! Is there a vegetarian version?

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  9. Lisa Michelle - thank you for your wonderful comments.
    Simona - yes, they do take time but so worth it.
    RCake Walk - the Brazilian connection is interesting. After WW2 when many people were emmigrating from war torn Italy, Brazil was one of the countries of choice.
    Shaz - yes, they can be made with leftover risotto as long as the risotto is not moist.
    Ciao Chow Linda - the ragu` is traditional
    Barbara Bakes - Thank you I'm glad you enjoyed the post.
    Msmeanie - Sure you can leave them unfilled or only filled with cheese. Or even be adventurous and try a pepperonata or ratatouille. Anything really

  10. Marcellina what a great posting I love how you explained each process so clearly and in such a way that is very easy to understand and the beautiful photographs add to the clarity of the exposition. An excellent lesson on making arancini. And your finished arancini looks so delicious and the children must be so happy that you make these on a regular basis. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    That photo of your ruga' is superb very drool-worthy!!! The colour is amazing.

  11. Thanks Audax, what a lovely compliment!

  12. this look so good! now i want to eat «croquetas de arroz»

  13. Oh Wow this looks Moreish!!! Nice blog by the way! :) I'm gonna follow you from now! I do food/wine blog incl recipes if ur interested
    Your recipe here looks done really well! I'm scared I may not be able to form the balls properly! But we'll see, I can do sushi balls.

  14. Well, this is the most detailed post I have seen for arancini (including what it means!) Thank you for sharing - especially the ragu sauce - I can tell it will be one of my staple recipes from now on!

  15. This is wonderful tute! You have a beautiful blog :)

  16. Oooohhhh I'm hungryy!!! I love arancini...I think that Sicilian Gastronomy is the best in the World...fantastic! :-*

  17. these look fab - when there are detailed steps to making something (and really it doesnt look like you've missed anything) it is bound to be so tasty !

  18. The arancini look very yummy. I just made some for the Daring Cooks for the first time, and they turned out wonderful. My kids loved them so much that they begged for more!

  19. This recipe is really incredible ... .. I love the flavors made me very happy ... The same feeling gives me my husband, since he started taking buy viagra for over a month .. .


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