Today’s arancini recipe will bring crispy deep-fried rice balls made of risotto rice to your tables. You’ll have gooey stringy melted cheese enclosed inside a crispy golden shell.
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 orange’s shape, 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 cannot be recognized as one, and here’s why:
Supplì is an Italian snack. It’s risotto rice balls with an oblong and round-tipped shape and 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 appetizers.
Supplì are often called “Arancini di riso al telefono”. This is because when cracked open and pulled apart, the cheese will stretch and forms a long string. As this cheese string connects the two halves, the supplì look just like an old-fashion 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 add-ins of their favorite. After rolled up into nice softballs, they’ll be coated with breadcrumbs and deep-fried.
Arancini are bigger than supplì and always come with a round shape. Meat, cheese, and vegetables are made into the filling rather than being mixed with the rice like 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. They won’t be able to stay together when you try to form a ball with them.
1. Arborio Rice
Arborio is a well-known Italian short rice that’s high in amylopectin starch. Thanks to its starchy and sticky feature, 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 favorable in Southeast Asia, India, and South America. Coconut rice is super sticky, thereby, 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 coconut amount that will be used.
How to Make This Arancini Recipe
Step 1: Fry the rice (1)
In a shallow pan, turn on high heat and add chopped onion, fresh thyme, minced garlic, and butter. Stir together till the butter is melted.
Step 2: Fry the rice (2)
Add in the arborio rice.
Step 3: Fry the rice (3)
Continue to pour the white wine and chicken broth to 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 (80% done).
Step 4: Fry the rice (4)
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.
Step 5: Make balls (1)
For each ball, put 2 tablespoons of the cooked rice in your palm, roll it into a ball. Press to flatten the rice ball, and put a mozzarella cube right in the center.
Step 6: Make balls (2)
Roll up to enclose the rice balls. Repeat with the remaining rice and mozzarella. Make sure that each ball is made of the same size.
Step 7: 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 to freeze for 15 minutes.
Step 8: Deep-fry the rice balls
Heat 1 cup of olive oil over low-medium heat in a large saucepan. Fry the balls until they turn golden on all sides, be careful not to overcrowd the pan.
Step 9: Drain oil and serve
Scoop the balls out on a paper towel to drain, sprinkle parsley and serve immediately while they’re still hot.
Tips for Making Arancini Recipe
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 combinations 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 any of your cravings.
What to Put in Rice Balls?
The possibilities for the fillings of arancini are endless. Below are the most common ingredients that people would 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 serve along to create a combo with balanced flavors.
2. Ham and Cheese
In this arancini recipe, there’s no ham or bacon mixed into the filling, instead, we only opted for two types of cheese.
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 ingredient list is Mozzarella cheese— which also is the filling.
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. Apparently, this is a brilliant way to make the best use of the leftover ingredients.
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.
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.
Arancini can freeze well within 2 months and be reheated without fuss. Though the shell would not be as crisp as when cooked fresh, the shape would 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 compliment to these lovely fried balls. That’s why we prepared this dazzling strawberry banana smoothie to serve along.
Love to hear your thoughts about this combo!
- 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
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- In a shallow pan, turn on high heat and add in the following: chopped onion, fresh thyme, minced garlic, and butter. Stir around till the butter is completely melted, then add in the arborio rice.
- Continue to pour the white wine and chicken broth to 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 roughly say 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.
- Transfer the cooked rice to a clean plate, cover with cling film and put to freeze for 15 minutes.
- Remove the rice from the fridge. Sprinkle parsley onto it.
- 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 them. Repeat with the remaining rice and mozzarella. Make sure that each ball is made of the same size.
- Beat the eggs in a hollow plate. Prepare the flour and breadcrumbs, each in the same hollow plate. Coat each ball successively with flour, then beaten eggs, and then breadcrumbs.
- Place the coated rice balls on a large plate, cover, and put to freeze for 15 minutes.
- Heat 1 cup of olive oil over low-medium heat in a large saucepan. Fry the balls until they turn golden on all sides, be careful not to overcrowd the pan.
- Scoop the balls out on a paper towel to drain. Sprinkle parsley and serve immediately while they’re still hot.
- (*) Only part of these ingredients will end up in the final product and we have calculated nutritional values based on that amount. The whole amount is needed for the coating and cooking process, but what actually ends up being consumed is 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 medium egg, 2 ounces of breadcrumbs, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Any batch of arancini can be stored in the fridge overnight. Next day you take them out, just heat them in the microwave or toaster oven without defrosting first.
- Ideally though, for each batch of arancini, you should only store them for 3 days for best quality and flavor. So please remember to consider the recipe servings, as well as the number of your tablemates to prevent overfeeding.
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