If you have read my latest post, you will know that I am hosting this month’s challenge at the Daring Cooks! I chose to challenge my fellow daring cooks to make Arancine from scratch, including risotto! I also shared 3 different recipes with them: Arancine al Ragu’, Arancine al Burro and Arancine agli Spinaci. The first 2 types of arancine are the more traditional varieties and I have already showed you how to make them, so today I will share the recipe for Arancine with Spinach. But what are arancine?? They are fried saffron risotto balls traditionally filled with a meat sauce or a cheese sauce, even though there are many modern varieties out there (some even sweet)! They are a traditional Sicilian street food and they are sold in every cafe in Sicily. These used to be my favourite treat as a child: during our summer holidays at my grandparents’ place in Palermo, my dad would take me out to do groceries at the local market and he would buy me an arancina as a “snack” – that often turned into a lunch! So, here you have my Arancine with Spinach and don’t forget to check out my other Regional Italian recipes! Enjoy!
Arancine with Spinach
A modern take on my family recipe for a very popular Sicilian street food: Arancine with Spinach - fried balls of saffron rice filled with spinach and bechamel.
- 2 tablespoons 30 ml olive oil
- 4 tablespoons 60 ml (55 gm) (2 oz) butter
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1½ teaspoons saffron threads
- 3 cups 750 ml (600 gm) (21 oz) Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice
- ½ cup 120 ml white wine or extra stock or water
- About 4 cups 1 litre beef stock (depending on cooking time)
- ½ cup 120 ml (55 gm) (2 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
- 7 oz 200 gm wilted spinach, chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 2½ teaspoons butter
- Salt to taste
- Above Saffron Risotto
- 250 ml 1 cup béchamel sauce (as per my tutorial)
- Above Spinach
- 2-1/3 oz 65 gm Mozzarella, diced
- Egg white
- Vegetable oil for frying
Start by putting the stock in a pot and heat until hot. The stock has to be hot all the time while you are cooking risotto, so that the rice temperature does not drop when you add the stock to it.
Put the finely chopped onion and the extra virgin olive oil in a pot and let it cook on a slow (low) heat, until the onion becomes soft and transparent.
Add the rice, mix well and let it cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until the rice becomes translucent.
Now pour in the white wine and let the alcohol burn off by cooking on a high flame.
Then add enough stock to cover the rice and turn the heat to medium-low.
Keep cooking, occasionally stirring the rice and adding stock little by little, until the rice is a little more than half cooked. It is going to take about 13 minutes (NOTE - the rice HAS to be undercooked at this stage as it will keep cooking until it cools down completely. By the end of the process it will be just right).
After approximately 8 minutes add the saffron and keep cooking.
After the 13 minutes are up, turn the heat off and add the butter and Parmigiano Reggiano to your risotto. Mix very well, until it becomes creamy, but dry (if it’s too moist, you will have a hard time making balls out of it). Check for salt and season to your liking.
Sauté the garlic with the butter. Add the wilted spinach and mix well. Cook for a couple of minutes. Season with salt to taste.
Make the béchamel sauce as per my tutorial.
When the rice has cooled down, make 10 to 12 balls with it and then open them by putting your thumb in one side. The hole has to be quite large to allow you to fill them as much as possible with the stuffing.
Fill them with 1 tablespoon of béchamel sauce and 1 tablespoon of spinach. Add some chopped mozzarella and close the balls with your hands. Keep them aside.
Roll them in egg white (slightly beaten with the fork) and in a mixture of flour and breadcrumbs (half and half).
Shallow fry in warm vegetable oil until golden brown. Serve warm.