Arancini, named after the little oranges that these fried rice balls are said to resemble, are best known in this country as a handy way to use up leftover risotto. In fact, they hail from a land far too sun-baked to have developed much of a taste for rich, starchy rice dishes. Indeed, they are said to have been introduced to Sicily by the Arab invaders who also brought rice to the island in the 10th century and have only latterly been adopted by the traditional risotto belt far to the north
• Fill the container with the cooked rice.
• Place the ring cover on the mold and insert the shaped long end of the pestle into the filled mold to spread and compact the rice, and to create the cavity.
• Insert your stuffing or filling into the cavity and top off with rice.
• Use the flat side of the pestle to tamp, add more rice if needed and tamp firm to close the cavity.
• Remove the ring cover and slide out your newly formed arancino, ready for coating and deep frying.
(Makes 10 medium balls)
800ml chicken or vegetable stock
250g arborio rice
½ tsp salt
Very generous pinch of saffron
50g parmesan or vegetarian alternative, grated
150g mozzarella, chopped into chunks
Fillings of your choice (meat ragu, pesto, sauteed mushrooms)
170g plain flour
500g dried breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil, to cook
If you are using leftover risotto, skip this step. Otherwise, bring the stock to the boil in a medium pan, then tip in the rice, salt and saffron. Bring back up to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer on a medium heat until the stock has been absorbed. Stir in the grated parmesan and season to taste, then leave to cool completely, preferably in the fridge – you can spread it out on a tray to hasten this if necessary.
Stir the mozzarella into the cool rice and check the seasoning. Roll a tablespoonful between wet palms to form a ball of your chosen size. Poke a hole in the middle and spoon your filling in, then plug the hole with extra rice. Repeat until all the rice is used up.
Beat together the egg, flour and enough water to make a thick batter (about 175ml), and season. Put the breadcrumbs on to a plate.
Heat the oil in a deep pan, no more than a third full, to 170C, or until a breadcrumb sizzles on contact. As it is heating, dip each rice ball into the batter to coat, then into the breadcrumbs, heaping them on top until it is well covered.
Cook in batches until golden brown, making sure the oil comes back up to temperature between batches, and drain on kitchen towel. Sprinkle with a little salt while still warm and serve hot or cold.