In the cities of Palermo and Trapani in Sicily, arancini are a traditional food for the feast of Santa Lucia on 13 December commemorating the arrival of a grain supply ship on Santa Lucia’s day in 1646, relieving a severe famine.
Arancini are said to have originated in 10th-century Sicily at a time when the island was under Arab rule. Today, with the increasing popularity of this snack food in modern Italian food culture, arancini are found all year round at most Sicilian food outlets, particularly in Palermo, Messina and Catania. The dish is often made using rice from left-over risotto.
Makes about 18
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2½ cups boiling chicken stock
- ½ cup frozen green peas
- 50 grams finely chopped ham
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 100 grams mozzarella cheese cut into 2 cm cubes
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dry bread crumbs
- 1 cup vegetable oil for deep frying
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring until onion is soft but not browned.
Add the rice, and cook stirring for 2 minutes, then stir in the wine, and continue cooking and stirring until the liquid has evaporated.
Add hot chicken stock to the rice a little at a time, stirring and cooking until the liquid has evaporated before adding more.
When the chicken stock has all been added, and the liquid has evaporated, stir in the peas and ham and season with salt and pepper.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Transfer to a bowl, and allow to cool slightly.
Stir the beaten egg.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg and milk with a fork.
For each arancino, roll 2 tablespoons of the risotto into a ball. Press a piece of the mozzarella cheese into the centre, and roll to enclose. Coat lightly with flour, dip into the milk mixture, and then roll in bread crumbs to coat.
Heat the oil on medium heat and fry the arancini in batches until evenly golden, turning as needed. Drain on paper towels.