The name Arancini, means "little oranges", and describes Sicilian rice ball that are shallow fried to a delightful light orange to brown color. Yellow tint comes from saffron which as added to the Sicilian risotto.
The dish can be made just for this purpose or can be a wonderful way to use left over risotto, or other cooked rice. Traditionally the shape and filling varies considerably throughout Italy.
They can be small or large and the filling can include chicken livers, cheese, peas, lamb and a range of other ingredients. Their versatility is part of their charm.
The recipe below is for lamb arancini but you can use other meats, and added fresh herbs or a range of vegetables.
Arancini is best made not with freshly cooked rice, but with left over rice, or rice that has 'matured' and set by keeping it in the fridge overnight.
This can be simply done by preparing the risotto on one day, and not making the balls until the next day.
Melt the butter in a medium shallow frying pan. Add the rice, stir and then increase the heat to high. Cook the rice, while stirring for about 2 minutes. Add about one fifth of the stock(1/2 cup; 100ml of stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 2 minutes. Lower the heat under the pan and then gradually add the rest of the stock, stirring constantly, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Test to make sure the rice is just cooked (al dente). If it is not cooked, add 1/2 cup of boiling water and keep stirring. This process can take 30-40 minutes and so don't be impatient. Transfer the cooked rice to a bowl and set aside - preferably leave in the fridge until the next day.
Heat the olive oil in small frying pan on moderate heat. Add the garlic and onion add fry for about 5 minutes until the onion has softened a little, but not browned. Add the lamb, 1 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook the lamb while mixing for about 5 minutes until the lamb is just cooked and has lost its pink color.
Drain off most of the oil from the lamb and then add it to the rice. Warm the rice in a microwave before using, otherwise it will be too hard to fry. Add the allspice, dill, herbs, fresh and dried mint, and some extra black pepper. Using a spoon and your hands, roll each portion into a ball shape (bigger than a golf ball, but smaller than a tennis ball; about 50g each).
Organize the flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs in 3 separate bowls ready for coating. Roll the rice-and-meatballs in the flour, next in the egg and then in the breadcrumbs. Make sure each ball is well coated and covered. Transfer the frying oil (sunflower oil) into a large frying pan to get a depth of about 0.5cm (1/4 inch) up the sides. Turn the heat to medium-high and heat until a small cube of bread sizzle and goes grown in about 30-40 seconds. Fry the balls in batches of 2-3 for 4-5 minutes, turning frequency to get an even color. The coating should also become crisp if the temperature is high enough. Transfer the cooked balls to a kitchen paper-lined plate, and keep warm, until you have cooked at the arancini. Serve hot or warm with a wedge of lemon as a side-side.