Sicilian Arancini, Montalbano's Croquettes
Arancini, a Montalbano Favourite
As an avid fan of Inspector Montalbano, the fictional detective created by Andrea Camilleri, I'm intrigued, and fascinated, by the Sicilian dishes ever present in the novels.
This year I'm going to master some Sicilian recipes, so lovingly detailed by Camilleri that I simply must try them.
These little balls are Arancini, deep- fried rice croquettes coated with breadcrumbs, filled with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and peas. The Sicilians have been making them for a thousand years.
Arancini, ready to eat!
Ingredients for Arancini
Looking through , I see that saffron is used in the rice mixture. It's also mentioned in Sicilian Feasts. Depending upon where you live, the saffron could be the most expensive ingredient, so I whipped up another batch of rice, covering it with a blend of half white wine, half water and a pinch of yellow food colouring. It tasted just fine. Sicilian Home Cooking: Family Recipes from Gangivecchio
This is enough for ten balls
2 cups of Arborio rice
1 sachet of saffron
Cup of thick Italian tomato sauce with peas. I used 1/2 cup of frozen green peas.
A cup of cheese. The Sicilian recipes call for canestrato fresco, but you'd have to be on Sicily itself to get that. Use finely sliced and diced mozzarella instead.
3 cups of breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper - A little olive oil - Vegetable oil for frying
The Arancini Mixture
Cook the rice and saffron in salted water until soft and yellow. Drain.
Add a blob of olive oil to stop the rice sticking
Add the cheese and season with freshly ground black pepper. Mix well. Cool.
Make the balls for Arancini
Beat the eggs with a little salt and pepper.
Now to roll the balls. Wet your hand and spread some rice mixture, about one inch in thickness, on your palm.
Add a dollop of the sauce into the middle of the mixture and close the rice into a little ball about the size of a small orange.
Close your hand to make a ball, ensuring the filling is completely enclosed by the rice. Squeeze it a little so that the contents are securely enclosed.
Why make the rice balls the size of a small orange? That's half the fun! There's the colour for a start, but the Italian word for orange is arancia. So we have little oranges.
Coat, Fry, Bake and Munch
When you've rolled up all the mixture into little balls, roll them one at a time in the beaten egg.
Then drop them into a bowl of breadcrumbs. You can use a plastic bag for the breadcrumbs, drop in a ball at a time and shake the bag.
Heat the oil and deep fry the balls until golden brown. Remove the balls and put them on a paper towel to get rid of any excess oil.
Place in a hot oven for 5 minutes to brown them further and to make sure the filling is melted.
Serve while hot and crunchy!
Cheerful Pan for Risotto
I just love red cooking appliances and utensils. They brighten up my kitchen and add warmth to my table.
Prawn Filling for Arancini Gamberetti
For the Filling
1 diced shallot
Cup of shelled, deveined, finely diced prawns (shrimp)
1/3 cup cream
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté the shallot until it starts to wilt.
Stir in the prawns, cook for minute more, stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper.
Briefly and briskly cook till it's fairly thick, stir in the parsley.
Remove the pan from the heat and let the filling cool
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© 2010 Susanna Duffy