Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Raffaele Imperiale - Arancini - Italian Rice Balls

Raffaele Imperiale - Arancini - Italian Rice Balls

Arancini Translates to Little Oranges

raffaeleimperiale.orgArancini: Italian Rice Balls, my families recipe has been around for at least 100 years; and we have always made them to have on Christmas Day, it wouldn't be Christmas without them. They can be prepared ahead of time and warmed up in an oven right before you're ready to serve them, they also freeze well too. We do the 7 fishes for Christmas Eve, on Christmas Day it's all about the meat (by then you're getting ready to grow a pair of gills from all the seafood the night before, lol).

This is a recipe from my Sicilian side of the family, and is a good example of Sicily's Arabic & Greek influence. If it seems a little sketchy in places it's because this recipe was never written down by anyone in my family; and in order for you to learn how to make them you must watch and learn. If I had a computer that can handle it I'd video tape me making them (or hire an actor, I'm not exactly a "Looker" if ya know what I mean, lol). So do forgive me in advance, I'm not being vague on purpose. There are many recipes for Arancina online, and I've included links to them so you can draw your own conclusions; you'll notice my recipe is a little different, and my friends fight over who gets to take any extra home (so it must be good). The only way you can get an Arancina slot is if someone on the list dies.

So many people I know take a shortcut and mix the meat and rice together; granted it will make your life easier. I don't do it that way; if you make them like this your rice balls may fall apart. Many add peas, I don't like peas in my Arancini (my family never made them that way); if you give me a rice ball with peas in them, I'll want to throw it at you (you've been forewarned, lol).


  • 1 lbs of chop meat
  • 1 small jar of pine nuts
  • 1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce (some use a sm. can of tomato paste)
  • 1 cup of Golden raisins soaked in Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 small onion minced
  • olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan)
  • a handful of parsley


  1. The night before you start take the raisins and soak them in sweet vermouth (if not over night, at least a few hours) drain the vermouth (you can omit this step and use plain raisins if you are alcohol-free). In a large skillet on low heat / flame add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add the minced onions, cook till translucent then add the small can of tomato paste and let that cook a few minutes constantly stirring add a little water to loosen it up (you can add the water to the empty can of tomato paste, this way you make use of all the tomato paste). If you choose to add tomato sauce, add it after you brown the chopmeat. Add the chop meat and brown it (if there is a lot of fat in the skillet, use a spoon to remove most of it), then add the golden raisins, parsley and pine nuts (you can also add salt and pepper, I recommend going easy on the salt, the grated cheese you add to the rice will have plenty of salt) . Let the meat cool completely or do this the night before and refrigerate till your ready to form the rice balls.

Making the Rice Filling - and Bread Crumb Outer Coating.

The key to make Arancini hold together is to NEVER ever rinse the rice before you prepare it, otherwise you'll remove the starch and they will fall apart (a common complaint for those who have tried to make this recipe). There is also a trick to making them, you need to add a vegetable shortening to the rice while it is still hot (as well as whatever cheeses you decide to add); once you do this you'll need to refrigerate them for a while, after the rice has been mixed well and cooled down a little. You can make the rice the night before; it's easier to make everything the night before, or you'd need to start early in the morning.

I use a pyrex lasagna tray, just to give you an idea of what you want to end up with. Make the rice according to the instructions on the box; some people cook the rice in chicken broth, I don't it's your call.


  • 2 - 3 pound bag/box of Carolina Rice
  • 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese
  • 1/4 cup of Crisco vegetable shortening
  • saffron (optional)
  • 3 - 5 eggs (some use just egg yolks)
  • 1 stick of butter


  1. Cook your rice as directed on the box, I repeat do not rinse the rice before you cook it. When the rice is done and while it's still hot add whatever cheese/s you'ld like to add; (my mother always used just grated cheese, many people add mozzarella) add a nice ladle of Crisco or store brand vegetable shortening and/or a stick of butter (my mother just used Crisco). Also, some people just put egg yolks in the rice; it's up to you. Let this mixture cool down a little before you add the eggs, basically you want to add enough egg/s to get a yellow tint to the rice (hard to see if you've added saffron, which I don't use my mother hated it).
Original Source: http://deadicatedlm.hubpages.com/hub/arancini-italian-rice-balls

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