In a large saucepan, bring the broth and olive oil to a boil. Stir in the rice, return to the boil, then lower the heat to keep to a gentle simmer. Cook the rice, uncovered, until al dente (tender but firm) about 12 minutes. When the rice is cooked, if there’s a bit of liquid remaining, drain it in a colander (any remaining liquid should be thick, heavy cream-like). Gently stir the rice in the colander to make sure any excess liquid drains out. Spread the rice on a baking tray and cool to room temperature. You can also refrigerate the rice for up to 24 hours at this point.
When the rice is cool, scrape it into a large mixing bowl and mix in the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and the egg.
Prepare the sauce:
Warm up the Bolognese sauce, or meat sauce of your choosing, then stir in the peas. Set aside.
Get your workstation ready:
Set the bowl of risotto, the meat sauce, and the cheese cubes in front of you, assembly-line style. Place a baking sheet nearby to put the rice balls on as you’re making them. Take out a large ice cream scoop if you have one (it handily measures out the exact amount of rice you need for each arancini: ¼ cup / 60 ml.) Put disposable gloves on if you wish because it’s a bit of a messy business.
How to shape the arancini:
Take 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the rice mixture and shape it into a small ball in the palm of your hand. Make a well in the center of the ball and drop in about 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the meat sauce. Drop a bocconcini ball or mozzarella cube in the center of the sauce. Using both hands, gently work the rice so that it completely encloses the meat sauce and cheese, slowly closing your hands over the rice ball to make it perfectly round.
Continue forming arancini with the remaining risotto and meat sauce. Once all the arancini are formed, freeze for 20 minutes. This will help them remain perfectly round as they fry.
Dredge the arancini:
Place three shallow bowls on your working surface. Put the flour in the first bowl, whisk the 2 eggs in the second one, and put the breadcrumbs in the last bowl. Set another clean baking sheet nearby to put the rice balls on as you’re dredging them.
Dredge one rice ball in flour to coat all sides. Tap off excess flour. Roll the rice ball in the beaten egg to coat, allowing any excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Finally, roll the rice ball in the breadcrumbs, pressing lightly to coat evenly with the crumbs. Transfer to the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining rice balls.
Fry the arancini:
If you’d like to serve the rice balls right after making them, heat the oven to 200°F (95°C) or to the lowest setting to keep the arancini warm as you fry them. Line a baking sheet with a double thickness of paper towels.
Pour the vegetable oil into a large stockpot so the oil comes up about 2 inches (5 cm) up the sides of the pot. The size of the pot you're using may require the use of more oil; add more oil if needed to make up for the difference.
If working WITH a thermometer: Insert a deep-fry thermometer in the oil and heat the oil over medium heat to 375°F (190°C). (If you are working without a thermometer, test the temperature as directed below.) Once the oil reaches the right temperature, keep an eye on it and adjust the heat under the saucepan to maintain a steady temperature throughout the frying process.
If working WITHOUT a thermometer: Test the temperature of the oil by dipping a small chunk of rice in the oil. It should give off a lively but steady sizzle. If nothing happens, the oil isn’t hot enough; if the oil around the bread-crumb coating boils and sputters, the oil is too hot. Adjust the heat accordingly.
When the oil comes to temperature: Carefully slip 2 or 3 arancini into the oil (don’t overcrowd the pot). Fry, turning as necessary with tongs or a slotted spoon, until golden brown and crisp on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove to the paper towel-lined baking sheet, keeping them hot in the oven if you like. Fry the remaining rice balls.
MAKE-AHEAD TIPS: To make the arancini ahead of time, simply let them cool to room temperature on the paper towel-lined baking sheet after frying. Once cool, store in an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat, preheat the oven to 325°F (170°C). Set the rice balls on a greased baking sheet and warm for 10 minutes in the oven, turning them halfway through.
SERVING: Arancini can be served hot or at room temperature. Sicilian rice balls are wonderful served as a snack or an appetizer with tomato sauce or garlic mayo on the side, or a main course along with a hearty salad.
Did you make this?
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