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Arancini alla Siciliana—Sicilian Croquettes, aka Italian Rice Balls

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
salt

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!