Arancini, also known as suppli, is an Italian appetizer that is popular in both Sicily and Rome. A delectable fried small bite made of Arborio rice wrapped around a savory center, it’s everything an appetizer should be. Bite sized, a mixture of textures and flavors and it goes perfectly with a glass of wine.
There are many variations of this classic appetizer which include centers of mozzarella cheese, a meat ragu and even mushrooms. I don’t think you can go wrong with any version, really. A fried ball of rice is pretty amazing no matter how you stuff it.
For my version I’m using some of my favorite flavors. Pancetta, basil and mozzarella. The salty pancetta complements the basil, while the mozzarella makes everything a hot melty mess. All encased in a crispy arborio shell. It doesn’t get much better than that, folks.
Then, press a patty of rice into your hand. Make an indent in the center and press in your filling. Take another scoop of rice from the bowl and put it on top of the filling. And then you pretend that you are making a snowball. Pack, pack, pack. And that’s it!
Once all of the balls are formed, you are going to dip them into a flour/egg wash/bread crumb mixture. The idea of this will totally stress you out because you will be convinced that they are going to crumble apart in the process. Fret not. For some crazy reason the balls stick together just fine. Trust me.
See how nice they look? Really, this is not at all complicated. After the balls are coated, the fun begins. Frying time. I use a plug in deep fryer, but you can certainly fry these up in a large skillet or a Dutch oven. They take all of four minutes to brown up. And the end result is a little bit of nirvana….
Crunchy on the outside. Smooth and silky on the inside. With just a little bit of crisp texture from the pancetta. You need to make these for your next party. And would you do me a favor when you host that party? Invite me. Because I sure would like someone to make these for me sometime. I’ll even bring the bottle of wine!
- 1 lb Arborio rice
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- ⅔ cup Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup pancetta, diced and cooked until crisp
- 3 Tbsp basil leaves, sliced
- ½ lb mozzarella cheese, cubed
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten (for dredging)
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 cup of fine bread crumbs
- vegetable oil for frying
- marinara for dipping (see notes)
- In a large pot, heat chicken stock over high heat and bring to a boil. Pour in rice and reduce heat to just a simmer. Cook uncovered for fifteen minutes or until al dente. Drain the rice from the remaining liquid and spread rice out on a cookie sheet. Allow to cool and then refrigerate overnight.
- Pour rice into a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and Parmesan cheese. Mix until incorporated.
- Put a bowl of water next to the large bowl of rice. You will need this to keep your hands damp.
- Press a palm sized patty of rice into your hand. Press to make an indent in the center. Place a cube of cheese, a sprinkle of basil and a bit of pancetta in the center. Scoop some more rice out of the bowl and cover the filling with it. Pack it together like you are making a snowball.
- Place the formed balls on a cookie sheet and prepare your work station for dredging.
- Put the flour in a plate and position as the first step of your dredging process. Next, place the bowl of lightly beaten eggs in the second dredging position. The last plate will hold the bread crumbs.
- Roll a rice ball lightly in the flour. Then give it a quick dunk in the egg wash. Lastly, roll it around in the bread crumbs. Lightly press the breadcrumbs into the rice ball.
- Place coated ball on the cookie sheet and do the same with the remaining balls.
- Prepare for frying.
- Heat oil over medium high heat. You will know it’s ready when you place a bit of crumbs in the pot and it sizzles. Cook each ball for four minutes. They should be uniformly golden brown.
- Place cooked balls in a 200º oven to keep them hot while you finish the frying process.
- Serve with your favorite marinara.