Arancini simply means “little oranges”, because that’s what they resemble after they are finished frying. They are so utterly delicious and irresistible. Through out Italy they are sold as a street food.
In the Lazio region, where I was born, they were known as “Suppli al Telefono”, named for the melting, oozing strands of mozzarella which are said to look like telephone lines strung from pole to pole. Seriously…just one bite and you will know what I mean!
They require a little patience to put together but so worth the effort. Fillings can vary from a meat (ragu sauce) filled arancini or a vegetable filled one. They are great as an appetizer or an anytime snack. Italy’s comfort food!
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, sliced thinly
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 3 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1/2 cup Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 large whole egg, slightly beaten
- 1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups Italian bread crumbs
- 3 large egg whites, beaten with a fork
- 1/2 cup prosciutto, chopped
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, chopped
- vegetable oil for deep frying
In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic, bay leaf and sauté for about 3 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, for about 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and discard it.
Once the rice is cooked, transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese. Let it cool and then stir in the beaten egg and egg yolk.
Combine the prosciutto and mozzarella together in a small bowl. Divide the mixture in 12 equal portions, place on a small tray. Having these portions ready will make it easier to fill the rice balls.
Keep a small bowl filled with water close by and use it to moisten your hands for easy rolling of the rice balls. This step will greatly minimize any fuss and mess when rolling the balls. Trust me, you can thank me later!
With moistened hands, scoop up 1/4 cup of the rice mixture and cup it in one hand. Use your other hand to flatten it slightly while making an indentation. Place about a teaspoon of the mozzarella and prosciutto mixture in the middle. Close your hand, making a fist and gently roll into a ball. If needed, you can always add more rice. Place the rice ball on a greased cookie sheet and repeat with the remaining rice and filling to form 12 rice balls. Moisten your hands with water as often as needed for easy rolling. This will prevent the rice from sticking too much on your hands and you will be able to roll the rice balls effortlessly.
Next, one by one, roll the rice balls in the flour then in the egg whites and coat completely. Finely roll the rice balls in the bread crumbs and place on a cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, line a cookie sheet with paper towels and place next to your stove. Heat the vegetable oil in a dutch oven or a deep frying pan (the oil should measure 3 inches deep), to 350F. Use a deep frying thermometer for accuracy. Make sure there is enough oil in the pan to ensure they cook evenly and not burst. Use a wire skimmer or a large slotted spoon to gently lower the rice balls into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd them. Fry the rice balls for about 2 minutes. They should be golden brown and crispy all over. When ready, remove with the wire skimmer or your slotted spoon and place them on the prepared cookie sheet to drain. You can also keep them warm in the oven preheated to 200F while you fry up the rest. Repeat with the remaining rice balls.
Serve the rice balls with Marinara Sauce or your favorite Tomato Sauce.