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Sicilian Arancini, Montalbano's Croquettes

Updated on September 19, 2014

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 Sicilian Feasts, I see that saffron is used in the rice mixture. It's also mentioned in Sicilian Home Cooking: Family Recipes from Gangivecchio. 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.

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.

2 eggs

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.

KitchenAid Gourmet Aluminum Nonstick 9" & 11.5" Skillet Twin Pack, Red
KitchenAid Gourmet Aluminum Nonstick 9" & 11.5" Skillet Twin Pack, Red

These open pans are perfect for cooking all kinds of flavoursome rice dishes like paella, jambalaya and risotto. For added convenience, the pans are oven safe to 400F


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

More Recipes inspired by Montalbano

Traditional Sicilian Pasta alla Norma
I'm a great fan of Inspector Montalbano, the fictional detective created by Andrea Camilleri. Montalbano loves his food and there's always a mention, in alm...

Sicilian Eggplant Caponata
I've fallen a little in love with eggplants. And maybe a little in love with Inspector Montalbano too. The books and TV series aren't just smart and witty de...

© 2010 Susanna Duffy

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    • Sarah Galli profile image

      Sarah Galli 

      3 years ago from Sicily

      Thanks for the recipe, will give it a go

    • mariacarbonara profile image


      5 years ago

      ooo they do look lovely. Why do the Italians have some of the best food!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      ah ... I think that this recipe is too fiddly for me in my impatient old age nowadays, but oh boy does it look delicious! I learned to cook via recipe books, so I can taste a recipe as I read it, and I can tell these are divine!!!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      i'm sicilian... no more to say :)

    • chezchazz profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      Showed this lens to my wife a minute ago and I just had to return to bless this one too. We'll be making them for the holidays this year for sure!

    • chezchazz profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      My late mother-in-law used to make these and we've been looking for a recipe like this for years! Thank you! These sound exactly l remember them!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This sounds quite delicious. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is fantastic. I've always wanted to eat sardines on the beach in Sardinia!!!

    • Asinka profile image

      Asinka Fields 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Sounds yummy!

    • RolandTumble profile image


      8 years ago

      Yum! This sounds even better that Pasta alla Norma!


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