About 2 years ago I flew to Catania from Rome to visit some of my Sicilian friends. One of the first things I did was to stop in a bar and have an arancino. The one I picked was filled with ragu sauce. I was so delighted by its taste that I could not help but shout “this is a supplì with super powers!” My Sicilian friends gave me a very bad look and said: “How dare you compare arancino with supplì?”
This can give you an idea of how proud Sicilians are of their arancini. They love their uniqueness so much that they do not even accept the association with the Roman supplì. Supplì and arancini do look similar, but it’s true that they are actually completely different! Also, always bear in mind that they are called “Arancini” – masculine – in Catania and “Arancine” – feminine – in Palermo. Make sure you call them the right way according to where you are if you wish to avoid the same bad look.
The word “arancino” or “arancina” stems from the word “arancia” which means orange. Indeed, the rounded arancini do recall the shape of oranges and so do the dimensions – their diameter is about 8-10 cm.
The legend goes that arancini were born in the 17th century, when a ship full with wheat arrived to the port of Siracusa after a long period of famine. To make sure that none of this wheat would get lost, Sicilians decided to boil it and make a sweet with ricotta and honey out of it. Nowadays arancini are made with rice, as the recipe changed over the centuries.
Arancini can be done in many ways but the most popular one is the one made with ragu sauce. Other recipes can include butter, mozzarella, ham, besciamella, aubergines, pesto and so on.
Today we want to share with you the recipe for the arancini with ragu…enjoy!
Ragù Arancini Recipe
For 12 arancini
1 bag of saffron
500 g of rice
150 g of cheese
100 g of mince meat
200 ml of tomato sauce
80 g of peas
½ litre of red wine
200 g of flour
- Boil the rice in salted water for about 15 minutes. The water needs to be totally absorbed by the rice
- Melt the saffron in a small amount of water and mix it with the boiled rice, butter and grated cheese. After stirring it for a few minutes, pour the rice in a tray and let it rest in the fridge for 2 hours.
- Cut the onion and fry it in a pan with oil and butter, then add the mince meat and cook over a high flame while simmering it with some wine
- Add tomato sauce and black pepper and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Add the peas and keep cooking for another 15 minutes.
- Cut the mozzarella and the cheese in to cubes.
- When the rice is cold, shape the arancini and fill them with ragu.
- Prepare the batter by mixing flour, salt and water
- Rub the arancini in the batter, then the bread crumbs and fry in oil.
- Arancini are ready!