The Meat Rice Balls (so called arancini) in Palermo , and generally in western Sicily, are round in shape , while in eastern Sicily they have a stretched shape and they are called arancini; anyway regardless of the shape, the name or the many variations each part of the island offers , these blonde and unique delicacies, are one of the most representative and worth to taste thinks of Sicily.
Traditionally the arancina , and many other delicacies we will talk about later, is prepared on December 13th for the day of Saint Lucia.
(Makes 10 medium balls)
800 ml chicken or vegetable stock
250g arborio rice
½ tsp salt
Very generous pinch of saffron
50g parmesan or vegetarian alternative, grated
150g mozzarella, chopped into chunks
Fillings of your choice (meat ragu, pesto, sauteed mushrooms)
170g plain flour
500g dried breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil, to cook
If you are using leftover risotto, skip this step. Otherwise, bring the stock to the boil in a medium pan, then tip in the rice, salt and saffron. Bring back up to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer on a medium heat until the stock has been absorbed. Stir in the grated parmesan and season to taste, then leave to cool completely, preferably in the fridge – you can spread it out on a tray to hasten this if necessary.
Stir the mozzarella into the cool rice and check the seasoning. Roll a tablespoonful between wet palms to form a ball of your chosen size. Poke a hole in the middle and spoon your filling in, then plug the hole with extra rice. Repeat until all the rice is used up.
Beat together the egg, flour and enough water to make a thick batter (about 175ml), and season. Put the breadcrumbs on to a plate.
Heat the oil in a deep pan, no more than a third full, to 170C, or until a breadcrumb sizzles on contact. As it is heating, dip each rice ball into the batter to coat, then into the breadcrumbs, heaping them on top until it is well covered.
Cook in batches until golden brown, making sure the oil comes back up to temperature between batches, and drain on kitchen towel. Sprinkle with a little salt while still warm and serve hot or cold.