Failure to Arancini

This post is about failure. Failure to read a recipe, failure to pay attention, and failure to respect ones own heritage. Failure, in this case, means failing to make a proper arancini. And I mean a proper arancini; not the kind that sit in food court bain marie that you get with a side salad, but a real, perfectly round arancini. Just like Nonna use to make them.

Ingredients for braciole di riso
Let me just give you some back story to this mad endeavour. It’s a family tradition that every Christmas lunch comes with a piping hot arancini, and Marg and I have taken to buying them from our local gourmet supermarket. They’re a quick meal after work and they’re delicious. Unfortunately, the supermarket sells two for $10, which is unsustainably expensive (especially for something that is essentially a ball of rice).  So, how hard can they be to make?

braciole di riso

I started off making braciole di riso (rice croquets). The recipe, from the darling calabrese cook book Mangia!Mangia, would form the rice base for my arancini. After making my first batch, my aunties, always encouraging, suggested that I cool the rice for a number of hours before trying to mould it. So with some handy family hints, some inspiration from this Guy Grossi recipe, it was forward onto the arancini!


For rice base:

  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 4 cups of arborio rice. < I actually found a packet at the Mediterranean Wholesalers with a picture of an arancini on it. How could I go wrong?
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup grated pecorino
  • 0.5 cup of grated mozzarella. Preferably fresh.
  • 0.25 cup of flat-leaf parsley, finely shopped.
  • 1 egg

For the stuffing

  • 1 cup of your favourite sugo (sauce), cooked. We ended up making the bolognaise sauce from the book.
  • 50 grams of ham
  • 50 grams of peas, cooked.
  • 0.5 cup of grated mozzarella.

Exterior and cooking

  • 2 litres of olive oil.
  • 2 cups of breadcrumbs

Makes about 12


  • Cook the rice:  Use a pot of boiling water, put the rice in, and the salt and then wait 20 minutes for it to cook.
  • Take the rice out, strain and put it in a large mixing bowl and then let it cool. It’ll make your life so much easier. I put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Pour the breadcrumbs onto a tray.
  • Add the garlic, pecorino, mozzarella, parsley and egg into the mixing bowl with the rice. Mix thoroughly.


  • Put a little bit of olive oil on your hands, and then grab a 4 centimetre diameter of mixture, and shape it into a ball.  Once the ball is relatively round, push into the centre of the ball, and push out the sides until it forms half a sphere.

Internal ingredients

  • Fill the interior of the sphere with the bolognaise, a little bit of ham, a few peas and some mozzarella.
  • Grab more of the mixture, and then cover up the interior, while rolling the entire shell into a ball.
  • Once you’ve got a ball that isn’t going to fall apart, roll the ball gently around on the breadcrumb tray, covering the whole ball.

Arancini rolled up

  • Now, this is where I really stuffed up. I decided that we should shallow fry our now 8 centimetre diameter arancini balls. BIG MISTAKE. They were impossible to move around in the pan, and we had a 60% casualty rate on them crumbling apart. Deep frying is the only frying option to take, particularly if you want them to stay intact. Pour the oil in, and then gently place your arancini ball in. You only need to get the exterior that golden brown colour, as everything is already cooked, so once it looks right, take it out.

Arancini Finished Product

So, there you have it, delicious arancini. Well, yours will be delicious and round. Mine were just delicious. Perfect for that quick after work meal when all you want to do is sit down on the couch and watch DC Cupcakes.

Note for the observant, half these photos were taken while making braciole di riso and half while attempting arancini. We were cooking the two mid kitchen renovation, hence half of them have half constructed plaster walls in the background while the other half have new penny tile. Much better.

This entry was posted in Eating in. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.