Tag Archives: Sicily

Cooking Sicilian Style – Arancini di Riso

There is a saying that cooking is good for the soul and this is definitely the case when cooking italian food.   Whether you are cooking for a special occasion, for family, for friends or in this case trying something that you have seen often but have never tried before.  Inspired by watching one to many Detective Montalbano episodes Joe and I decided to get to it!!

Ingredients for Arancini di Riso, 2013
Ingredients for Arancini di Riso, 2013

Arancini di Riso (Sicilian Rice Balls) – the Arancini because the size and color of the finished rice balls approximates an orange – is a typical sicilian dish of fried rice balls that have assorted.  Typical for italian recipes there are almost as many versions as there are sicilian grandmothers, however I prefer recipes that include some type of meet ragu for the filling.

I have attached a video link (in italian OR click to convert to english) for one particularly good recipe but encourage you to google “arancini di riso” to explore the many versions of this recipe on the internet.  This link provides the ingredient list as well as shows you the technique which I found very helpful.  Arancini di Riso – How to Video 

Cooking meat filling, 2013
Cooking meat filling, 2013

Ingredients – Filling

  • 150 grams ground meet (beef or pork or a combination of both)
  • 80 grams peas (fresh are best but you can use frozen)
  • 150 grams Provola Cheese (soft provolone or you can use mozzarella – not the white but the pale yellow)
  • 40 grams tomato paste (use double concentrated that comes in tube)
  • pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • 100 ml red wine
  • 1/2 onion
  • 25 grams butter

To make the filling heat the butter and olive oil in pan.  Cook for approximately 5 to 8 minutes until onion is translucent.  Add ground meat and cook through.  Add wine and cook for approximately 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste and cook to reduce about 10 to 15 minutes stirring often.  Season with pepper and add peas and take off heat.  Stir a few more times and then leave to cool.  Filling should be thick and not to runny.

Joe cooling rice mixture, 2013
Joe cooling rice mixture, 2013

Ingredients – Rice

  • 500 grams (long grain white rice)
  • one packet of saffron
  • 30 grams butter
  • 100 grams grated cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • salt

To make the rice cook rice per instructions on package.  Remove rice from pan to large bowl and add saffron, butter, grated cheese, egg yolks, and salt and mix throughly.  When finished spread rice out on large flat plate.

Joe assembling the Arancini, 2013
Joe assembling the Arancini, 2013

Assembly and Deep Frying

  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs beaten

Watch the video for this part as the visuals are so much better than any explanation I can offer.

Arancini di Riso, 2013
Arancini di Riso, 2013

Sicily – Agrigento, Palermo, Syracuse

The best way to describe Sicily is to start throwing out adjectives – beautiful, turbulent, mysterious, fascinating, rugged, lush, diverse to name but a very few.  The Sicilian natives carry the blood of 13 occupying powers in their veins which sets the stage for the variety of food, architecture, culture, and history you will experience.

The reality of visiting Sicily far and away surpassed my imagination and many preconceived stereotypes.  I have been back several times and I hope I will have the good fortune to go back again – this time for a much longer visit.

Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Sicily, 2010
Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Sicily, 2010

Sicily is fairly easy to traverse via car and you can see a lot in a few days depending on where you are located.   Both the Palermo and the Catania Airports are easily reached (1.5 hour flight time) by daily flights from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.  I highly recommend visiting Palermo for a few days and visiting nearby towns – Cefalu, Misilmere, Monreale OR spending a week along the southeastern coast – Noto, Ragusa, Syracuse.  Agrigento and Taormina are also high on the list but are more out of the way and require some logistical planning if you do not have access to a car – well worth the effort!

Palermo Cathedral, Sicily, 2010
Palermo Cathedral, Sicily, 2010

For fans of bestselling Inspector Montalbano novels and short stories now a long running cult Italian TV Series a trip to Sicily will allow you to visit many of recognizable locations which have been used as a backdrop over the years.

View of Syracuse from Aranella, Sicily, 2012
View of Syracuse from Aranella, Sicily, 2012

One of Sicily’s best natural features is the beautiful Mediterranean Sea which offers great swimming, seafood, and scenery.  Definitely try to spend some time walking along the water or relaxing in the water at one of the many beaches.

I have included several links which will give you further insight into this magical diverse universe situated on the largest island in the Mediterranean and hope you are inspired.  Buon Viaggio!

Related articles