Rice Balls, or arancini if you'd like to be authentic, are a traditional Italian treat. Arancini or arancine are fried rice balls coated with breadcrumbs, said to have originated in Sicily in the 10th century. Arancini are usually filled with ragù (meat sauce), tomato sauce, mozzarella, and/or peas.
There are a number of local variants that differ in fillings and shape. The name comes from the food's shape and color, which is reminiscent of an orange (the Italian word for orange is arancia, and arancina means "little orange").
I love them! But they're fried. And I don't make much fried food since my New Year's Resolution of 2008 (how's that for sticking to a resolution?!) So I decided to use my meatball maker for a slightly different purpose. And here's how it turned out:
Italian Rice Balls
- 1 pound chopped mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- 3 large egg yolks, beaten
- 2 cups cooked short grain rice
- 3/4 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1.2 cups dried breadcrumbs
- 8 (1/2 inch) cubes mozzarella
Finely chop the mushrooms and saute in butter until brown. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
Add egg yolks, rice, peas, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms and 1/2 cups breadcrumbs to a large bowl and stir until combined.
Place the remaining breadcrumbs on a flat pan lined with parchment paper. For the rice mixture into 2 inch balls.
Poke a hole in the center of the rice ball,
Insert 1 cube of mozzarella into the center of each ball.
Reform the ball.
Roll the balls in the breadcrumbs to coat.
Place 8 balls into preheated meatball maker. Allow to cook for 8 to 13 minutes or until the rice balls are golden brown.
Serve with your favorite marinara sauce, and enjoy the delicious, melty insides and the crispy outside!
I think these are every bit as good as the fried rice balls, without all that oil. The Children liked them too - I didn't tell them about the mushroom part, and they didn't notice. All they noticed is that they were tasty!