May 31

Arancini alla Siciliana—Sicilian Croquettes, aka Italian Rice Balls

in Italian, Main Course, Meat, Recipes By Region, Recipes by Type, Rice & Noodles

I am currently on vacation.  Mr. Fuji and I are in Cancun, and as you read this, we are hopefully lounging on a beach enjoying some sunshine or exploring the ruins of Chichen Itza!  While I’m gone, two dear sweet friends are filling in for me, making sure that you have something yummy to read about.  First up is the amazing and phenomenally talented Paula of bell’alimento.  Paula makes amazing Italian food accessible on bell’alimento through showing how easy it is to make it from scratch at home.  I know because I’ve tried many of her recipes for dishes that now make regular appearances on our table.   I can’t wait to get home and try the amazing meal that she is sharing with us today!


Hi, I’m Paula, I write a little blog called bell’alimento and I’m so honored to be popping in today filling in for the fantabulous Rachael while she’s out of the country living it up ; ) No, I’m not jealous or anything tee hee! It’s no secret that I LOVE Rachael’s site! Her recipes are constantly inspiring me {as I’m sure you all}! She’s dee-lightful and I’m so grateful to call her my friend! So naturally when Rachael asked me to fill in {I kinda feel like Jay Leno subbing for Johnny Carson} I had to come up with something extra special!
Arancini alla Siciliana--Italian croquettes
I’m hoping you think it is too ; ) One of my favorite things are Rachael’s Rice Balls! I mean really they’re gaw-geous. I’m always envious of how effortlessly she puts those together. SO I thought why not do an Italian version of a rice ball! ARANCINI! Arancini alla Siciliana translates to Sicilian Croquettes {aka Rice balls ; )} Arancini actually originated in Sicily {which you probably guessed from the name} & also refers to a small orange {hence the size of the rice balls} See how it’s all coming together LOL. Rachael & I always joke about our Italo-apanese connection and this is the perfect fusion between the two!
Arancini cut open
There are a number of things you could add to the inside of your Arancini, so go ahead & go crazy. Peas would be a great addition. You could even use leftover Risotto in lieu of long grain rice and they’d be delicious {extra creamy}! A few things to remember: Just be sure your oil keeps a constant temperature of 350 and that you don’t crowd the pan! You’ll know when they’re ready by their color, you’re looking for a nice golden tan {something I’m sure Rachael will have when she returns} And if you’re gluten free you can use cornmeal to dredge them with ; )

Thanks again for letting me stop by! I hope you give these a try!
Baci e Buon Appetito!


Arancini alla Siciliana closeup

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Arancini alla Siciliana (Sicilian Croquettes)

1 1/2 cups long grain rice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano – grated
3/4 cup ground beef
1/2 onion – minced
1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf Italian parsley – roughly chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese – cubed
2 large eggs – beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
vegetable/canola oil – enough to fry

1. Bring a large saucepan with plenty of salted water to boil, add rice and cook until tender (approx 15 min). Drain the rice well. Return to saucepan and add 2 tablespoons butter and the Parmigiano. Stir well to combine. Set aside and allow to cool completely. WHILE rice is cooling, into a medium-large saute pan melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until slightly translucent. Add the beef and cook until brown. Stirring as necessary. Add the parsley and season lightly with salt. Add wine and cook until evaporated. Stir in the tomato paste, reduce heat to LOW and cook for additional 10 mins. Check for seasoning, add salt if necessary.

2. Place approx 3-4″ oil into a large dutch oven or similar pan and heat to approx 350 degrees. WHILE oil is heating assemble the Arancini by shaping the cooled rice into balls the size of a SMALL orange (or tangerine). Using your thumb make an indentation allowing you to fill the inside. Place a cube of Mozzarella and top with meat filling. Cover with additional rice and re-shape the ball between your hands, using pressure to compact the rice (you don’t want it to fall apart in the oil). Set aside. Continue until all are assembled.

3. When the oil is ready, place your eggs into a small shallow bowl and the flour into another small shallow bowl. Dip the Arancini into the beaten eggs first (making sure it’s covered on all sides) and then transfer to the flour bowl coating the ball with flour. Tap off any excess flour. Carefully transfer the Arancini into the oil and cook until nice and golden (cooking time will depend on the size of your Arancini), turning it as necessary.  Do not crowd the pot, do this in batches if necessary. When golden, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to sop up any excess oil.

Buon Appetito!

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Lyndsey May 31, 2010 at 10:59 am

They look wonderful! I would eat them all!


Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks May 31, 2010 at 11:56 am

Beautiful. Have you ever made these ahead and rewarmed in the oven? Wonder if would change the texture too much?


Paula - bell'alimento May 31, 2010 at 2:26 pm

@Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks, Thanks Andrea! I actually made these ahead of time this past weekend and kept them warm in my toaster oven until time to serve. Hope that helps : )


Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction May 31, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Lovely… Can’t wait to try this recipe. I must say my mind is now spinning seeing two of my favorite blogging worlds collide here. You two are an unstoppable combination! I love it!


Alta June 1, 2010 at 10:56 am

Yum! Back when Daring Cooks did risotto, I wanted to make Arancini, but I didn’t! :( Must try it now!


Joy June 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm

That looks so good. I like how you put the ground beef inside of the rice. I’m so used to it being the other way around.


Lawyer Loves Lunch June 1, 2010 at 2:47 pm

These look fabulous and so portable! Perfect to take to lunch (assuming there are some left, of course) :)


Sally June 1, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Oh My! Those look delish – I will have to attempt them. I have had something similar – at a food fair on a portugese food stand. They were melt in the mouth and so lovely – thank you for the fab recipe!


Winelady Cooks June 1, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Hi Paula, Great recipe. This is one dish I grew up with. Both sets of my grandparents were from Sicily and they always made rice balls. You are so right, today you can use your imagination and fill the rice with any combination. I remember my grandmother sometimes put a dash of cinnamon in her beef. You have inspired me to try to make these again — I have to admit I have not been successful, but I’m going to keep trying.

Thanks for sharing,


Paula - bell'alimento June 1, 2010 at 5:28 pm

@Winelady Cooks, Thank you Joanne! So glad you’re going to give them a go! I love the addition of Cinnamon! Love your Nonna! I’m also a big fan of a pinch of Nutmeg as well!


sippitysup June 1, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Travel Safe! And great job Paula. GREG


Chefdruck (Vanessa) June 1, 2010 at 9:14 pm

These arancini look absolutely delicious. How can you go wrong with breading and frying risotto rice?


Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 3, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Love love love arancini! They got me through university!!!! SAving this recipe to make in the cooler weather!


Amanda June 8, 2010 at 8:45 am

Oh Rachel it’s been so long since I’ve been here, I’m sorry! These look awesome, just stumbled!! How are you? Miss you my friend! :)


Alison June 11, 2010 at 8:32 am

I just found this via The Kitchn and I’m so excited. We just started getting these from an Italian Deli guy at our weekly local market. We had no idea what they were called and I was dying to know how to make them. The stars aligned and here you are! Thanks so much for this and I will definitely be stopping back to see what other goodies you have here.


Nando June 11, 2010 at 8:51 am

Sorry if I seem like a troll, but I saw this from another blog aggregator. Anywho, I spent 4 months in Sicily on a military tour (I lived in the town of Motta Sant’Anastasia, near Catania) and had aranchinas almost every day I was there. However, I don’t remember them being stuffed with anything but cheese and the occasional bits of tomato or tomato sauce. I’m not saying it’s not authentic, just that I never saw it done this way so I’ll have to try it.

I got my recipe from an old lady who used to sell them in her little shop next to the butcher. She used left-over risotto from the previous day and just added the cheese (and maybe sauce, if you asked for it), made the ball, breaded them and then fried them to order. The risotto was just sitting in a pan until you ordered it and she would hand make them right then and there (you had to ask for the sauce, but it didn’t come standard). This is how I make them at home whenever I have left-over risotto.


Paula - bell'alimento June 11, 2010 at 10:29 am

@Nando, Ciao Nando! Isn’t Italy wonderful : ) I lived there myself for many years. Hai ragione {you’re right} there are many ways to fill the Arancini {one of my other favorites is with peas or mushrooms} & yes you can absolutely use leftover risotto {I mentioned that in my story} It makes them nice and creamy : ) Grazie! A presto!


Sarah June 12, 2010 at 8:38 am

Hello! I’m here via the Kitchn…these look wonderful! I’m just wondering if you can make these ahead and freeze them–I’m always looking for recipes I can make in large batches and put in the freezer to for easy meals later on. Could you maybe assemble these and freeze, then defrost and fry?


jessica June 17, 2010 at 3:04 pm

These kind of remind me of Cuban Papas Rellenas, which I love.


Onigiri recipe April 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Thanks for posting this recipe! I love eating rice balls and will try making rice balls using this recipe later!


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