Arancine

Finally, there is a bar without all that football mess inside. With a glassy counter it looks like in a confectionery shop. I turn to the lady behind the counter:
– Do you have “arancini”?
– What? – she seems perplexed
– “Arancini” like “Arancini di Montalbano” – I’m trying to be more precise
– Aaaaa – ARANCINE! Yes, of course! There are three left, but with ragù only – she smiles to me pleased of having me corrected of the masculine form that I have misused, apparently
– we would like two, and two Perroni please.

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We have our balls of rise fried in oil now. They are perfectly round and orange, look almost like small oranges. She served them on a paper plate because it’s considered “street food”, which certainly is not the same as “fast food”, but still is treated only as a kind of a snack. But for me it seems so nutritious that I really don’t need anything more for my dinner. A fat ball of rise with meat, vegetables and peas, fried in a deep oil. The shape is exactly as the original one, introduced by cooks on the court of Frederick II Hohenstauf, the XIIIth century Holy Roman Emperor in Germany, and king of Sicily, a splendid Middle Ages figure.

The bar looks very simple, like a country tavern of the distant past. The walls are covered with oil-based dark green paint, the square tables have plastic cloth in red and white checker. And it’s dark in here. The only light comes from the outside through the window and the door, but they’re long away from the dining room. There are two men around 50′ at the next table, wearing checked shirts and leather jackets, with grey hair and the famous “coppola” caps on their heads. They are drinking beer and looking at us curiously.

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My arancina is really tasty, as I have always imagined. I know, I know it is a “caloric bomb” but didn’t I deserve it after a whole day on feet with a heavy backpack? Hello, no regrets, no way! Brittle and crispy outside, soft and yellow under the skin and then the delicious ragù inside, which only Italians and…well…Sicilians know how to prepare perfectly, that we know from every other lasagna, cannelloni and spaghetti so well.

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How to prepare 22-25 arancine:

Rice (Arborio type):

Take 1kg of raw rice, 2.5l of water, 100g of butter, some salt, 2 sachets of saffron, and put them all together mixed in a large pot. Start to cook them at medium heat without stirring until the rice absorbs all the water (which should happen in about 40 minutes), then just leave it to cool down.

Ragù (ingredients: 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 2 bay leaves, a pinch of clove powder, 250g of minced pork, 250g of minced beef, half glass of white wine, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 200g of green peas (frozen rather than canned), salt, pepper and 250g of grated cheese):

Put the chopped onion, carrot and celery with a little olive oil in a saucepan and after a few minutes add all the meat. Let them brown, turn up the heat, add white wine and let it evaporate. Add the bay leaf and the powder of cloves and then peas and tomato paste dissolved in a glass of warm water, two more glasses of water, salt and pepper and cook it on low heat for about an hour and a half. Add some water if it gets too dry. At the end remove the bay leaves and add the cheese, while it’s still warm, then mix.

Now take a ball of rice as big as an orange and make a hole in it. Fill it with the ragù. Close the hole with a small piece of rice paste. The best way to do this is to keep hands always a little wet. Put the ball into a dense liquid made of flour and water and in the end in bread crumbs to cover it completely.

We are ready for frying now, which must be done using a pan with plenty of seed oil. As soon as the oil is hot dip one ball in it so that it is completely submerged in the oil. Fry it until it receives a golden colour, then take it out and put on a piece of paper to absorb the rest of oil.

And so that – it’s ready – and it will kill you!!!
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