We usually have a BBQ on Mother's Day to make it seem like my Mom will be able to kick back and relax, but it never fails, she always ends up being the busiest and best hostess ever. So I figured I'd really just put the woman to work and see how much she could take. Aside from the overly stuffed menu of deviled eggs, corn and bacon stew, broccoli, homemade pizza made by Mike, mashed potatoes, hot dogs, hamburgers and italian sausage, I asked my Mother, the wonderful Marcy, to make rice balls with me from Nonna's recipe.
In Italian these heavenly meat stuffed balls are called arrancini, or little oranges and are made on St. Lucy's day, December 13th.
They are so delicious it would be a sin to only enjoy them once a year. Once you eat one its hard to stop. I remember eating them at Nonna's house as a child and no kidding downing eight easily.
(Above: Nonna with rice balls)
Like a lot of other special Sicilian dishes, making rice balls is a bit time intensive with a few steps but totally worth the end result which you will enjoy for lunch for days. Grab a partner and make it a team effort. Its a lot of fun and easier when one person is assembling and the other is battering and frying.
SICILIAN RICE BALLS: ARANCINE
4C. White Rice
1 1/2 Sticks Butter
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2lb. chopped beef
1 (6oz.) can tomato paste
1 (6oz.) can water
2 TBSP. frozen peas
5 eggs beaten (3 for rice, 2 for battering)
4 TBSP. grated cheese
Oil to deep fry
1 C. flour
1 C. bread crumbs
Small pieces of mozzarella cheese (optional)
Prepare rice Italian style: Bring a large stock pot filled with water to a boil with salt. Once boiling add the rice and boil it for 25 minutes until it has absorbed most of the water but is still moist. Melt butter in rice then refrigerate for several hours until cooled
Make the meaty sauce filling: Sautee minced onions and garlic. Add meat and brown. Add tomato paste and water. Cover and cook for about 1/2 hour. Add frozen peas and cook another 5 minutes.
When you are ready to assemble the rice balls add the eggs and grated cheese to the rice.
To assemble the rice balls its easiest to use 2 ice cream scoopers. Scoop some rice in one then make a small hole. Add about 1 TBSP of meat filling to the hole and a little piece of mozzarella. Don't overstuff or it will seep out. Scoop some rice with the other scoop and stick that half onto the other. Shape them into balls that are about the size of small oranges.
To batter: Put some of the flour into the 2 beaten eggs. Roll the rice ball in the egg. Then roll the rice ball into some flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
Fry in oil (canola or peanut) that is heated to 350 degrees. You don't have to deep fry. You ca dry one side, then flip to fry the other. Salt after frying and enjoy!
For a eat glossary of Sicilian food terms visit: www.bestofsicily.com