Stuffed Sicilian rice balls with Ragoncino filling.



Ragoncino- tomato mince filling
450g Lean ground beef

80ml Olive oil

60g Mixed minced onion, celery and carrot

Ground hot pepper

100g peas

500g tomato puree, peeled tomato

3L chicken stock

40ml olive oil

8tbps butter

1kg Arborio rice

8 Saffron threads or ½ tsp powdered saffron

125g grated parmesan

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

500g fine breadcrumbs

500g for crumbing

5 eggs, mixed together for crumbing

Salt and pepper to taste

Oil for frying



Start the ragoncino at least one day before you make the rice balls. Cook the minced beef in a dry sauté pan, stirring to break it up, until lightly browned. Drain off the fat. Put the olive oil and the minced vegetables in a medium saucepan and sauté for 6 to 8 minutes, until soft and barely golden. Add hot pepper to taste. Add the cooked meat, peas and salsa and simmer, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Cook, cover and refrigerate the ragoncino.

To make the risotto, bring the chicken stock to a boil.  Add the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan and add the rice, stirring, until the grains are well coated.  Stir in the stock by the ladleful, waiting until each is absorbed before adding the next. Add the saffron when the risotto has cooked for about 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock and stir until the risotto is smooth and creamy with an al dente consistency. There may be some stock left over, which you can refrigerate or freeze to use for another purpose.

Allow the rice to cool. Once the rice is cool, spoon out 60gr of rice and place in hand. Poke a small hole in one side and fill with meat/tomato ragoncino. Cover over with rice and proceed to make the rest of the rice. Once you have your fantastic little rice balls dust in flour, then in egg wash then breadcrumbs. You are ready for frying.

Heat 2½ - 3 inches of oil in a deep fryer or a saucepan to about 170c.  Fry the rice balls, turning them in the oil, until evenly cooked and crisp and deep golden on the outside, about 3 minutes.  To test, insert a metal skewer and remove it. If the skewer feels warm to touch, the rice ball is cooked. Drain on paper towel and serve immediately. This makes about 24 Arancine, enough to serve 12 as a first course.