Monday, January 19, 2009

Arancini (Sicilian Croquettes)

As a child, one of my main food groups was mozzarella sticks. Seriously. My parents could not take me out to eat unless the place served hot dogs or mozzarella sticks without appearing as if they were depriving their daughter of food. My tastes have matured a bit since then (although I am slightly ashamed to say I do love a good hot dog and won't turn down a mozzarella stick). Arancini are fried rice balls filled with gooey cheese, tomato sauce and meat...aka grown-up mozzarella sticks for a grown-up Caitlin.


1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon freshly grated Asiago
1/2 cup ground beef
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
3 1/2 ounces Mozzarella cheese, diced
2 eggs
1/2 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
Vegetable Olive (<-my mother scolded me for suggesting vegetable in place of olive oil) oil, for frying

Cook rice in boiling chicken broth until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid. Put rice in bowl and add 1/2 of the butter and the Parmesan and Asiago cheeses. Spread rice out on (clean!!) counter and let cool.

Use remaining butter and melt in medium saute pan. Add beef and cook, turning occasionally to brown. Drain beef fat. Add white wine to beef and cook until evaporated. Mix in tomato paste, freshly ground black pepper and salt lightly. Add some crushed red pepper if you prefer spicier food. Cook about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Form cooled rice into small balls about the size of tangerines. Poke a hole down the center and fill with a little basil, tomato meat sauce and a chunk of Parmesan. Seal with more rice.

Heat oil in a deep-fryer or pan over high heat so that a drop of egg sizzles when it hits the oil.

Beat 2 eggs in shallow mixing bowl. Place bread crumbs in separate bowl next to eggs. Dip rice balls in eggs so that they are lightly coated and then dip in bread crumbs. Ensure the balls are coated with bread crumbs but shake off any excess.

Deep fry the rice balls until golden brown all over. Drain well on paper towels.


  1. Yum, I must learn to deep fry things so that I may taste them myself.

  2. That sounds so good! Man, I need to get a thermometer so I can deep fry. Oh and I still love mozzarella sticks, and quality hot dogs. You aren't alone. ;)

  3. I haven't had one of these in such a long time! And the ones I've had didn't have meat or sauce in them. How yummy! I'm having a serious craving now!

  4. Cheese AND rice? I'm all over it . . .!

  5. A restaurant we go to adds some truffle dust to the coating. Fabulous!

  6. This is def my next adventure after zeppoles. Thanks for the recipe and rumbling stomach!

  7. A very unusual dish for me. Sounds scrumptious! We don't use wine in such dishes in Turkey. I think I'll try after reading this recipe.
    By the way, I completely agree with your mom, olive oil is always better. It has the magic here, in Mediterranean.


Tried my recipe? Please let me know how it turned out for you! Be honest (and kind!)