Arancini (Italian Rice Balls)

Main Course

Recipe courtesy of Nancy Wilson for Louisiana Kitchen & Culture magazine

Makes 10 pieces

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • 16-ounce can tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 3 teaspoons salt in all
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6½ cups water in all
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 4 cups plain or seasoned breadcrumbs
  • oil for frying
  • 5 cups of cooked sticky rice

Arancini (Italian Rice Balls)

Click image to enlarge


Brown beef in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add celery and onions; reduce heat to low and cook about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste, 2 cups water, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, cinnamon, chili powder, garlic, and Parmesan cheese; simmer 25 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Taste; adjust seasoning. 

Place remaining water, remaining salt, and rice in a 5-quart pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low for 20 minutes or until grains are tender; rice should be mushy. Using a ½-cup scoop or measuring cup, make 10 rice rounds.

Scoop about ½ cup of rice into the palm of your hand. Flatten into a round disc, then shape into a shallow bowl. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center; press filling down with the end of a spoon while molding rice around filling. Take care not to get the filling on your hands, as the tomato sauce will stain the rice.

Mold the rice around the filling and shape into a ball, enclosing filling completely.  Whisk together eggs and milk and place in a wide, shallow pan. Place breadcrumbs in another wide, shallow pan. Roll each rice ball in egg wash, then in breadcrumbs. Cover and chill until ready to fry. 

In a large Dutch oven, pour cooking oil to 4 inches deep. Place over high heat and bring oil to 375ºF. Working in batches, carefully add rice balls to hot oil and fry, turning occasionally, until evenly browned. Drain on paper towel

Thin any remaining filling with a little tomato sauce and serve with rice balls; add a green salad for an authentic Italian lunch.


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