Optional: use Mozzarella,
Teleme, or Monterey Jack cheese instead of the chicken mixture
as a stuffing. Allow about 1/2 ounce per rice ball. Make the
arancini as directed below.
Place the water or chicken broth,
salt, pepper, and saffron in a medium-sized saucepan with
a lid, bring it to a boil over high
heat, and then lower the heat. Add the rice all at once,
and stir for a moment. Replace the lid on the pan, and simmer
for about 16 minutes, or until it is tender but al dente.
The liquid should be thoroughly absorbed. If you find it is
continue to cook the rice over medium heat with the lid off
until the rice is sticky but not wet. When the rice is done,
it from the heat, and add the tomato sauce and the grated
cheese, and mix it well. Set it aside in the pan to cool for
hours. (You may refrigerate it, well covered, after 2 hours
if you wish, and continue the rest of the recipe the next day.)
TO PREPARE THE MEAT FILLING:
Cut the meat into large chunks, and in a frying pan brown
them in some olive oil or lard over medium heat. When the
meat is brown, add the onion, and gently brown that also,
but do not make it too dark. Add 1 cup of marinara sauce,
and cook the mixtire slowly for about an hour. Add fresh
or frozen peas and cook it for 5 minutes longer.
Remove the meat from the sauce with a slotted spoon, let
it cool until you can just handle it, and using your fingers
and perhaps a fork, shred all the meat into fairly small
pieces. Return the meat to the pan.
When the rice and tomato mixture is cool, add 2 of the
eggs, and mix well. Take about one twelfth of the mixture,
and pat it out on the palm of one hand so that it looks
like a thick crepe. Place about 2 tablespoonfuls of the
meat mixture into the center of the rice crepe, and gently
close your hand so that you envelop the meat. Do the same
thing if you are using the optional cheese. Shape the mass
into a rounded ball using both hands, gently circulating
one against the other. Lay the finished ball on a cookie
sheet or on a large piece of wax paper, and continue until
you have used up all of the ingredients.
TO FRY THE ARANCINI
Beat two eggs lightly in a low-sided dish. Spread the
bread crumbs in a low-sided dish. Roll the arancini in
the egg mixture, and then roll them around in the bread
crumbs. As you finish each one, set it on a cookie sheet
or some wax paper.
Heat the oil to about 350deg. F in a deep fryer, put in
as many arancini as will fit comfortably in the pan, and
fry them until they are a deep golden color. Remove them
with a slotted spoon, and lay them on absorbent paper or
on a clean kitchen towel. If you have a lot of them, store
them in a warm oven as you make them. Keep the oven door
ajar so they will stay hot but with the air circulating
Arancini can be very successfully frozen after forming
them into balls. Arancini are perfect for lunch accompanied
by a large green salad, or they make a delicious first
course followed by roast lamb or large slices of roasted
fish such as sea bass.