As we already told you last week, Saint Lucy’s day is a very heartfelt celebration all over Sicily, with the huge Saint Lucy’s parade in Syracuse and all other commemorative events scheduled today throughout the island. But today, as a tribute to the Saint who saved the island from famine by sending a ship loaded with wheat, lots of bakeries are closed – especially in the area of Palermo – and the food of the day, together with sweet cuccìa, is arancina (or “arancini” as they call them in eastern Sicily).
If you are currently staying in one of our Sicily villas we definitely recommend you try one (well, even two… or three…) of these delicious delights in one of the many “friggitorie” (basically, places where stuff is fried: oh, Sicily!), but if you are far from this beautiful island don’t worry: you can celebrate Saint Lucy’s day just as Sicilians do with our ultimate guide to cooking “arancine”!
How to cook Arancine Siciliane with meat
Ingredients for about 20 arancine:
– 1.3 gr. of arborio rice;
– About 3 liters of meat or vegetables broth;
– 1 onion;
– 100 gr. butter;
– 2 sachets of saffron;
– 250 gr. grated Parmigiano Reggiano;
– 200 gr. cubed primosale cheese (you; can also choose caciocavallo if you want);
– Corn seed oil for frying;
– Plenty of bread crumbs.
For the “ragù” (meat sauce):
– 400 gr. minced beaf;
– 1 onion;
– 100 gr. tomato paste;
– 50 gr. grated Parmigiano;
– 2 bay leafs;
– 2 cloves;
– 200 gr. fresh peas;
– Extra-virgin olive oil;
– Half glass of white wine;
– Salt and pepper as needed.
First of all, cook the risotto about 12 hours before starting with the recipe. This is vital: risotto must be cold so that the mixture will be solid and sticky enough and “arancine” will come out perfectly. Start with preparing the broth, in which you will dissolve the saffron. Heat up some olive oil in a large pan and sweat the onion in it (but watch out: the onion must not get brown!), then add the rice and let it toast for a minute, and add the warm broth little by little in order to cook perfectly the rice. Once the rice is ready, turn off the fire and mix it with grated Parmigiano and butter, then put it on a large plate and let it cool down.
Now let’s get started with the ragù! Grab a pan and sweat the onion with oil, then add minced beef and let it sear for a few minutes paying attention to mixing it with a wooden spoon, then soften it with wine. Add salt, pepper, bay leafs, cloves and tomato paste (which must be liquefied in water before): your ragù must be thick and almost dry. Once it’s cooked, add the Parmigiano, then cook the peas, dry them and add them to your ragù.
And now, the funniest and most important moment: time to make arancine! Take a spoon of rice and put it in your hand in order to form a cavity where you’ll place your ragù with a cube of cheese in its centre, then take another spoon of rice and carefully spread it upon the ragù, paying attention that it doesn’t pour out. Shape the arancina with your both hands (make sure it gets compact and solid enough!) and then cover it with breadcrumbs. Your arancina is ready to be fried! Put it aside and start making a new one, until your ingredients are over.
Heat up your frying oil in a pan (choose one with tall sides) and fry your arancine until they are entirely gilded, then remove them from the pan and put them on a plate with blotting paper. Serve warm – arancine, however, maintain their delicious taste even when served at room temperature!
Once you start getting familiar with this recipe, you can go wild on trying all the variations you want: just to give you a hint, during Saint Lucy’s day in Palermo you can find arancine with chocolate cream, pistachios, ham and mozzarella…
Buon appetito and happy Saint Lucy’s day!