And you can tell everybody, this is your streetfood

In Italy, there are several recipes that kind of align to the concept of Arancin*: deep fried rice balls covered in a crispy coating: in Rome for example we have the supplì, and in Naples we have “A pall ‘e ris” (rice ball).
The main difference between these three streetfoood is in the stuffing, even if every family has their own “secret recipe”.

Supplì

A supplì is a rice ball but with an oval shape. The rice is usually covered in tomato sauce, and in the centre of the ball there is mozzarella cheese. Once prepared and made in the desired shape, the ball is soaked in egg and covered in breadcrumbs, and then deep fried in oil seed. It is believed that the word supplì comes from the French word for “surprise”, and this is because the French soldiers in Rome were surprised by the mozzarella cheese inside these balls. Mozzarella is a key ingredient for a supplì: when you eat one, you are meant to split it in two halves, and in doing so, mozzarella is drawn out in a string somewhat resembling the cord connecting a telephone handset to the hook. This is why they are now known as “supplì al telefono (“telephone-style supplì”).

A pall ‘e ris

A pall ‘e ris is quite similar to the Arancin*, but they are stuffed with Neapolitan salame rather than ragù, they are soaked in eggs and then covered in breadcrumbs before being deep fried, while arancin* are covered in “legatura” that is basically a mixture of water and flour, and then covered in breadcrumbs.

And then we have the Arancin*, my favourite Italian streetfood! The recipe is a little bit laborious, but I promise you it is all worth it 🙂 I recommend making the ragù the day before and store it in the fridge. This will let the ragù thicken even more, and it will be easier for yuo to manipulate it when you are giving the shape to the rice ball.

Ingredients for 10 Arancin*

Rice

-Carnaroli rice, 500g

-saffron powder, 1 sachet of 0.1g

-beef stock, 1l

-salt, 2 teaspoons

-butter, 100g

Ragù

-Mince beef, 250g

-Mince pork, 250g

-carrots, 2

-celery stick, 1

-white onion, 1/2

-red wine, half a glass

-tomato passata, 300g

-hot water, 300ml

-peas, 150g

-olive oil, 2 tablespoons

-salt and pepper

Stuffing:

-Ham, 30g

-Mozzarella or scamorza cheese, 60g

Coating:

-flour, 200g

-water, 300g

-salt, 1/2 teaspoon

-breadcrumbs, 400g

-sunflower seeds oil, 1L

Steps:

  1. Let’s start with the ragù: chop the onion very finely
  2. Put the oil in a pan and add the onion, let it cook at medium temperature until soft
  3. In the meantime, chop finely the carrots and the celery, and add them to the onion
  4. Add the meat and let it cook
  5. Add the wine and keep stirring until it evaporates
  6. Add the peas, the water and the tomato sauce
  7. Cover and let it cook for 2 hours. I suggest making the ragù the day before the arancin*, so it will be cold and thick for when you need to mainpulate the rice balls
  8. Now it is time for the rice: boil it in the stock for 15 minutes, it hs to absorb all the liquid and it will be super compact once cooked
  9. In the meantime, mix the saffron in 2 tablespoons of hot water
  10. When the rice is cooked, mixed the saffron mixture and the butter
  11. Flatten the rice and cover it with cling film, let it cool
  12. In the meantime, cut the ham and add it to the ragù
  13. Dice the mozzarella and keep it separate
  14. Once cooled, take 2 tablespoons of rice and flatten it against your hand
  15. Now kind of close you hand but not completely, to form a “bowl” with the rice
  16. Fill the bowl with the ragù and place the mozzarella in the centre
  17. cover your bowl with rice and press everything together to get a cone shape (if you struggle, you can just make a round shape like I did in the picture below)
  18. Now that you made all your arancin*, make the legatura: slowly mix together the flour and water, try to avoid any clumps
  19. Once the legatura is smooth, add the salt
  20. Soak the arancin* in the legatura, and then cover them in breadcrumbs
  21. Heat the sunflower oil until it reaches 170C or until a piece of bread turns golden brown in the oil within 45 seconds
  22. Cook the arancin* for 8 minutes or until golden brown. I suggest cooking them one at the time
  23. Using a skimmer, remove the rice ball from the pan and leave them in a tray lined with kitchen roll

Enjoy!!

Homemade arancin* bites
Arancin* round shaped, as I couldn’t manage to get the cone shape ahahah
Properly shaped arancin*
Supplì

Rice, meet ragù

Sicily is the Queen of the Mediterranean sea: she is there, in her all glory, kissed by the waves and hugged by the sunshine. She is majestic, with her natural gifts like Mount Etna or the Aolian islands – and like the most beautiful women, her history makes her even more charming: the Valley of the Temples, the Necropolis, Val di Noto – they are all there to remind us that our history is what makes us beautiful.

The icing on this already phenomenal cake, is the food. Food in Sicily is just a whole different matter, from the sharpness of the caponata to the sweetness of the cassata, you can never get bored with the flavours. Amongst all these tremendous dishes, I do have a soft spot for what I consider an institution of the Sicilan gastronomy: Arancin*.

The reason why I am putting an * rather than O or A, lies in one of the oldest feuds that never died out in Italy: is it called Arancino or Arancina? Even Sicily is divided on this matter: for the Western part of the island it is “arancina”, while Eastern Sicily and the Northern Italy calls it “arancino”.

Western Sicily claims that the correct name is arancina, as the shape of it is similar to an orange (in Italian “arancia”). However, in Sicilian dialect the name for orange is aranciu (which is male), therefore the name arancino seems a more appropriate translation from the dialect.

The Accademia della Crusca, the society of scholars of Italian linguistics and philology, in theory settled the argument and “officially” arancina is the word closer to the Italian language, while arancino is closer to dialect, but they can both be used.

In this endless fight, where both sides have very convicing arguments and historical references to support their theories, I sit amongst the purest and wisest intellectuals: in a chair, with a rice ball in each hand.

Another tricky topic is the history behind arancin*: obviously every Sicilian city claims they invented it. The most likely origin, dates back to the Arab domination, when it was common to eat rice with herbs and meat. The lovely coating we all know today came only in the 1200s, during the reign of Federico II di Svevia, who needed to bring something to eat with him that was easy to carry.

It is also believed that originally arancin* were sweet snacks, invented to commemorate the arrival of a grain supply ship on Santa Lucia’s day in 1646, relieving a severe famine that was affectig the island, and that the savoury filling we all know today was only inroduced in the 1800s, when tomatoes started to be grown in Sicily.

There are several variations of Arancin*: with ragù, butter, pistachio, aubergines, courgette flowers, etc… and they are all scrumptious as you can imagine!

I will post the recipe for the Arancin* al ragù, the most traditional version of this fantastic street food in the next few days – stay tuned!!

Arancin* al ragù
Arancin* al burro
Arancin* with courgette flowers