6 (Wed) May 2020
Arancini alla Siciliana
-Dasmariñas Village, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines-
with the Family
So long as I’m working my way through the spaghetti recipes in The Silver Spoon (see The Silver Spoon), I will also try out other recipes.
Arancini alla Siciliana is an Italian dish. Rice balls, typically stuffed with ragu, also cheese, sometimes breaded, deep-fried. The name “arancini” means “little orange” in reference both to the size of the balls and their orange color after deep-frying. Believed to have developed in Sicily during the 10th Century, when food culture was strongly influenced by the Arabic traditions of the Moor rulers.
I had difficulty stuffing the balls. The recipe first called for forming the balls into “croquettes as large as small oranges – hence the name aranci,” but a small orange in the American sense would be about the size of tennis ball, which seemed too big, so I made them smaller, about the size of golf balls, ending up with 12 pieces. After hollowing out the center of a ball, I could only manage to scoop in a tiny bit of sauce and cheese before the whole thing would start to crumble. To reseal it, I had to add more rice, taking bits from other balls. In the end, I was left with 9, now about the size of racquetballs. In pressing the balls back into shape, sauce was squeezed out through the outer layer of rice, making them already orange. Nearly 1/2 of the sauce and 3/4 of the cheese went unused.
They turned out okay, though definitely each needed more sauce and cheese.
By coincidence, our favorite beverage these days is San Pellegrino Aranciata, orange soda with orange juice.
Also by coincidence, the Godfather trilogy returned to Netflix this week, so I was compelled to watch it again for what might be the 1000th time. The movies are about the Sicilian Mafia in the United States. Whenever a character is shown to eat or buy or play with an orange, it foreshadows that someone is about to die. I wonder if there’s a connection to the dish, like it’s served at the wake of assassinated mob bosses.
Despite the mediocre outcome of the main recipe, I was very happy to learn a new technique for the sauce. It involved sautéing/simmering ground beef + butter + white wine + tomato paste + salt. I added a bit of sugar to balance out the acidity of the New Zealand sauvignon blanc that I’d used. No garlic, no herbs. As with all the recipes in The Silver Spoon, it was so simple yet so rich in flavor. For the spaghetti, I also added freshly cracked black pepper. I will definitely make this again, as a standalone pasta sauce.