Little Italy Street Fest Arancini

September 09, 2017 09:06 AM

Maria Papa highlights her recipe for arancini - just one of many offerings available Saturday, September 9 at Schenectady's Little Italy Street Fest.

Rice Balls from More Perreca’s Italian Kitchen

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Italian street food is the best food, and Schenectady’s Annual Little Italy Street Festival on Saturday, September 9 from 12:00 noon until 9:00pm on N Jay Street in Schenectady’s Little Italy will have no shortage of authentic and delicious street food such as sausage and peppers, ziti and meatballs, and the most popular of them all, Perreca’s Arancini  (Rice Balls  with a meaty center).

For the center :

2 tbs. olive oil;

1/2 c. finely chopped onion;

3-4 cloves garlic finely chopped;

1/2 lb. lean ground beef;

1/2 lb. Italian sausage;

1/2 small can tomato paste;

1/4 c. water;

1/2 c. parmesan cheese;

3/4 c. green peas (we use frozen -- but Grandma Perreca used canned and the arancini were delicious);

salt & pepper to taste.

directions -- heat olive oil in a pan and add onion and garlic until translucent but not brown.  Add ground beef and Italian sausage (break up loosely if in links) and cook through.  Drain off most of the oil.  Dissolve 1/2 small can of tomato paste in 1/4 c. water and add to meat mixture stirring thoroughly.  Add parmesan, peas, and salt & pepper to taste.  Cook uncovered over medium heat stirring occasionally until mixture sets (about 7-10 minutes).  

Set aside.

For the outer rice layer:

2 cups cooked rice -- use either Italian Arborio or short grain white rice & cook according to package directions.  At Perreca's we use chicken stock and a splash of white wine instead of water when cooking the rice;

1/2 c. parmesan cheese;

4 large eggs total -- beaten / 2 for the rice mixture / 2 held over for battering with bread crumbs before frying;

4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese;

1 1/2 c. Perreca's Bread Crumbs

enough vegetable oil for frying

directions -- In a large bowl, mix cooked rice, parmesan cheese, 2 beaten eggs and mozzarella thoroughly.  Place in refrigerator until mixture is cool (can even be made a day ahead of time -- but cover the mixture with cellophane wrap if you are going to leave it overnight).

assembly -- With an ice-cream scoop, form a ball with the rice and cup it in your hands forming a hollow center.  Fill center with meat mixture and cover top with more rice, forming a ball, or arancini, with your hands -- it's much the same process, at this point, as packing the perfect snowball.

Roll arancini in a bowl containing the final 2 beaten eggs, and then roll in a separate bowl containing your Italian bread crumbs.

Have vegetable oil already heated and ready at this point (about 1-1 1/2 " thickness in your pan), and gently drop the arancini in to fry.  An alternative method is to place arancini in baking dish and place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or enough time to be heated though to maintain an internal temperature of 165 degrees using a meat thermometer.     Remove from oven and top with heated marinara sauce just before serving.


Joel Landas

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