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Arancini

Arancini, the pride of the Sicilian kitchen, are fried rice balls filled with meat ragout and peas. They can also be filled with vegetables, such as mushrooms or eggplant. The Italian name comes from the Italian word arancia (orange) because of a resemblance in color and texture. Nowadays the arancini made in western Sicily are round while those made in eastern Sicily, particularly around Catania, are often conical. Wherever you are in Sicily, you will find the always warm and fragrant arancini at any time in many places - the tavola calda (cafeteria), friggitorie (fried foods shop), and bar (snack bar).

Servings: 4

Ingredients for Rice:
1¾ ounces butter
4¼ cups meat stock
14 ounces rice (Arborio or Originario)
1 ounce dried tomato paste
1 small packet saffron
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for Filling:

3½ ounces ground beef
3½ ounces peas
3½ ounces pork
3½ ounces tomato sauce
1 small onion, chopped
3 cups breadcrumbs
1 small carrot, chopped
1 hard-boiled egg
1¾ ounces celery, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup red wine
2 tablespoons of water cooking oil
3½ ounces fresh Ragusano cheese (or Provolone),cubed

Note: If desired, fill your arancini with whatever you like.

Directions:

Add the rice, olive oil, and tomato paste to the seasoned meat sauce. Boil until the rice absorbs all the stock.
Add the saffron, butter, and cheese to the rice, and let it cool.
Cook the peas, carrot, and celery for 10 minutes in the olive oil and water.
Simmer the onion in olive oil. Then add the ground beef, and sautè the meat until it changes its color.
Add the red wine. When the wine has evaporated, add the tomato sauce and salt and pepper. Cook at least 20 minutes on medium temperature. Then add the peas, and let the sauce thicken.
Using the previously prepared rice, form one little ball shaped like a mandarin. Make a hole in the center. Now put a tablespoon of the sauce, 2 or 3 small cubes of cheese, ¼ of the egg, and then close it up with both hands. Use remaining ingredients to make more balls.
Roll each ball in the bread crumbs, and fry in hot cooking oil until the arancini are golden. Remove and put on a paper towel to drain briefly.
Serve warm. Buon Appetito!