Arancine (rice balls) for Saint Lucia

Rice balls, the pride of Sicilian cuisine, are small timbales of rice that can be consumed at any time of the day or year. Local tradition wants that on the day of Saint Lucia (December 13th), to thank the Saint for having ended the period of famine in Sicily, we do not eat bread and pasta but only rice, potatoes and ‘panelle’. So let’s prepare some fabulous arancine!

Ingredients for about 15 arancine:

  • 500 gr of rice (superfine or round grain)
  • 1 L of water
  • 30 gr of butter
  • 100 gr of grated Parmesan cheese (if you prefer a stronger flavour use pecorino)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 bag of saffron
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients for the meat filling:

  • 200 gr of minced veal
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 80 gr of peas (frozen or fresh)
  • 25 gr of butter
  • 40 gr of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Pepper as needed
  • Salt to taste
  • 100 ml of red wine

For breading and frying:

  • Breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • Olive oil

Boil the rice in a litre of salted water so that it completely absorbs. This procedure allows us to keep the starch in the pot and obtain a very dry rice. As soon as the rice is cooked, add three egg yolks beaten with saffron, grated cheese and butter. Mix well and place the rice in a very large plate, level it and let it cool.

Now let’s dedicate ourselves to the stuffing. Fry the finely chopped onion in a pan with two tablespoons of oil and a knob of butter and then add the meat, browning it on high. Add the wine, let it evaporate, then add the tomato paste which must be previously dissolved in a glass of water, add salt and pepper and cook over low heat for thirty minutes.

Meanwhile, put the peas in a pan with a little oil and let them cook for ten minutes adding water if necessary. When the peas are crunchy and cooked, add them to the meat sauce and let it cool.

Begin to shape the arancine! Take some rice in the palm of your hand forming a thin bowl, put a tablespoon of meat sauce in the centre, close with another thin layer of rice and shape the ball. Now pass the arancine in the beaten egg, then in the breadcrumbs and finally fry them in boiling oil. As soon as the arancine are well browned, they’re ready to be eaten. 😋


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