Today’s arancini recipe will bring crispy deep-fried rice balls made of risotto rice to your New Year’s Eve (December 31) table. Gooey, stringy melted cheese enclosed inside a crispy golden shell, what more could you want?
What Is Arancini
The original name of this dish is “Arancini di Risotto”.
“Arancini” is an Italian term derived from the word “arancia“— which means “orange” or “citrus”. “Risotto” is a famous Italian rice dish cooked in a broth made from common ingredients like meat and vegetables.
Of course, there’s no citrus here— the name was meant to imply the visual appearance of this rice dish. Arancini bears a great resemblance to the shape of an orange, especially with its burnt sienna color.
Supplì vs Arancini
Supplì from Rome and arancini from Sicily look quite similar as they both have a crispy outer. Nevertheless, they are not the same, and here’s why:
Supplì is an Italian snack. It’s risotto rice balls with a round-tipped, oblong shape, and were originally mixed with ground meat, provatura, and tomato sauce.
In the early 19th century, supplì was a street food in Rome. Now, it’s a quick snack that’s frequently served as an appetizer.
Supplì are often called “Arancini di riso al telefono”. This is because when cracked open and pulled apart, the cheese will stretch and form a long string. As this cheese string connects the two halves, the supplì look just like an old-fashioned telephone line.
Arancini is an iconic food of Sicily. Though the preparation of arancini is similar to supplì, the differences between these two mostly come from the main ingredients.
For arancini, people always use short-grain rice, varieties of cheese, and their favorite add-ins. After being rolled up into nice soft balls, they are coated with breadcrumbs and deep-fried.
Arancini are bigger than supplì and always come in a round shape. Meat, cheese, and vegetables are made into the filling rather than being mixed with the rice like in supplì.
Rice for Rice Balls
Successful arancini should be creamy and stringy when cracked open, therefore, don’t try to use regular rice, especially brown rice. It won’t be able to stay together if you try to form a ball with it.
1. Arborio Rice
Arborio is a well-known Italian short rice that’s high in amylopectin starch. Thanks to its starchy and sticky nature, it easily rolls up well to form perfectly firm and solid rice balls.
2. Coconut Rice
Made by cooking white rice in coconut milk, coconut rice is favored in Southeast Asia, India, and South America. Coconut rice is super sticky, therefore it can easily be molded into any shape you desire.
However, the sweet and nutty scent of coconut might be too much for some people. So it’s best to make coconut rice at home to take control of the amount of coconut used.
How to Make Rice Balls
Fry the rice
In a shallow pan, turn on high heat and add chopped onion, fresh thyme, minced garlic, and butter. Stir together until the butter is melted.
Add in the arborio rice.
Continue to pour the white wine and chicken broth into the mixture, reduce the heat to medium, let it simmer until the chicken broth is fully absorbed and the rice is cooked to al dente (about 80% done).
Add heavy cream, ground black pepper, and salt. Stir quickly. Add all the grated parmesan in, give it a few last stirs, and turn the heat off. Allow the rice to cool down a bit.
For each ball, put 2 tablespoons of the cooked rice in your palm, and roll it into a ball. Press to flatten the rice ball, and put a mozzarella cube right in the center.
Roll up to close the rice balls around the cheese. Repeat with the remaining rice and mozzarella. Make sure that each ball is made the same size.
Coat the rice balls
Coat each ball successively with flour
then beaten eggs
and then breadcrumbs
Place the coated rice balls on a large plate, cover, and put in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Deep-fry the rice balls: Heat 1 cup of olive oil over low-medium heat in a large saucepan until there are tiny steam bubbles on the surface. Deep-fry the balls until they turn golden on all sides, be careful not to overcrowd the pan.
Drain oil and serve: Scoop the balls out onto a paper towel to drain, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately while they’re still hot.
Tips for Making
There are actually tons of ways to make the filling for arancini.
Any edible leftover can work well in these rice balls. If you’re thinking of veggies and meats being tossed together— go for it!
There’s no wrong combination and no magic needed to create the “right” stuffing here. Swap things out if you want to and omit others if it doesn’t fit what you fancy.
What to Put in Rice Balls
The possibilities for the fillings of arancini are endless. Below are the most common ingredients that people often add to their rice balls.
Either porcini, button, or flat mushrooms will work for arancini. If mushrooms are in the filling, usually, a pesto dip will be served on the side to create a combo with balanced flavors.
2. Ham and Cheese
Ham and cheese is a classic combination that tastes great. In our arancini recipe, there’s no ham or bacon mixed into the filling, instead, we opted for two types of cheese (this also made it vegetarian friendly).
After cooking the risotto rice to al dente, we let it absorb in the heavy cream, spices, and Parmesan cheese. The other cheese you’ll find within the ingredients list is Mozzarella cheese— which is the filling in our recipe.
Ground beef, meat ragù, and minced bacon are the most favorable options to add to the arancini filling.
The meat is usually cooked with a veggie mix to create a hearty complex flavor for the rice balls. This is a brilliant way to make the best use of any leftover ingredients you have.
In case you’re seeking for vegan fried balls, we’d be super glad to recommend falafel.
Packed with protein, chickpeas have been a vegetarian-friendly alternative to red meat or poultry. For falafel, mashed chickpeas are mashed, combined with seasonings and herbs, pressed into balls, and fried to golden crisp. It’s a finger food that’s often served as an appertizer or snack at parties.
How Long Does Arancini Last
Since arancini are deep-fried rice balls, they’ll turn soggy very quickly when left at room temperature for too long. Therefore, we recommend you serve them hot for the best possible flavor and texture.
If stored in the fridge, arancini can last up to 2-3 days. To rewarm, you might need to quickly fry them again on the stovetop.
Ideally though, for each batch of arancini, you should store no more than 3 days for best quality and flavor.
Arancini can freeze well for up to 2 months and be reheated without fuss. Though the shell would not be as crisp as when cooked fresh, the shape should still hold up beautifully.
What to Serve with Arancini Balls
Since arancini is a sizzling menu item, they can either be served plain or paired with a sweet cold beverage.
Strawberry Banana Smoothie
We believe a refreshing ice-cold drink will make a nice complement to these lovely fried balls. That’s why we prepared this dazzling strawberry banana smoothie to serve alongside.
We would love to hear your thoughts about this combo!
|Arancini||Breakfast||397||7.2 g||365 mg|
|Strawberry Banana Smoothie||Beverage||216||1.0 g||24 mg|
|Total||613||8.2 g||389 mg|
- 3/4 cup arborio rice
- 1 tsp unsalted butter
- 2 oz onion
- 1 tsp garlic
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- 2 cup unsalted chicken broth
- 1 tbsp white wine
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 oz shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/2 oz mozzarella cheese cubed
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (*)
- 2 eggs (*)
- 8 oz bread crumbled (*)
- 1 cup olive oil (*)
- 1/2 tbsp parsley
- In a shallow pan, turn on high heat and add in the following: chopped onion, fresh thyme, minced garlic, and butter. Stir ingredients around until the butter is completely melted, then add in the arborio rice.
- Continue to pour the white wine and chicken broth into the mixture, reduce the heat to medium, let it simmer until the chicken broth is fully absorbed and the rice is cooked to al dente (we’d say roughly 80% done).
- The two steps above should take you 20 minutes in total. Next, add heavy cream, ground black pepper, and salt to the pan. Stir quickly and add all the grated parmesan in, give it a few last stirs and turn the heat off.
- Allow the rice to cool down a bit before making rice balls.
- For each ball, get about 2 tablespoons of the cooked rice and use your palm to roll it into a ball. Press to flatten the rice ball, and put a mozzarella cube right in the center. Finally, roll up to enclose the cheese within the rice. Repeat with the remaining rice and mozzarella. Make sure that each ball is made the same size.
- Beat the eggs in a small bowl. On two separate plates, prepare the flour and breadcrumbs. Coat each ball successively with flour, then beaten eggs, and then breadcrumbs.
- Place the coated rice balls on a large plate, cover, and put in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Heat 1 cup of olive oil over low-medium heat in a large saucepan until there are tiny steam bubbles on the surface. Fry the balls until they turn golden on all sides, be careful not to overcrowd the pan.
- Scoop the balls out onto a paper towel to drain. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately while they’re still hot.