This recipe is part of our yearly Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. This Sicilian American tradition involves several unique fish dishes served in courses. This is hands-down the kids favorite recipe from the meal.
What are Arancini?
Never heard of them? You aren’t alone. I hadn’t either until I married my husband (of Italian decent) and saw his family making these little rice balls on Christmas (they actually do it backwards and serve pasta on Christmas Eve and seafood on Christmas, but I digress).
The finished rice balls resemble mini oranges in color and size. This is where the name, which means “little oranges” comes from.
Traditionally breaded in flour or panko breadcrumbs, I’ve adapted the recipe to be gluten free and dairy optional. I don’t recommend this recipe if you can’t have eggs, as they are necessary to the finished texture.
I should also mention that this recipe includes rice and that cauliflower rice is not a good substitute for it. We don’t normally eat a lot of grains, but white rice is one exception. We eat white rice on special occasions and the kids have it a couple of times a month. Here’s the reason why, if you are interested.
Crab Cake Arancini Recipe Tips
These arancini are actually a fusion of crab cakes and classic arancini. I think this actually improves them, though I’m not Sicilian and may be committing some kind of Italian culinary heresy. I’m not sorry. They are delicious and I’m excited to debut them to my Sicilian hubby on Christmas Eve, since this is a new recipe I developed earlier this year and he was out of town when I tested them.
Arancini are a little time consuming to make, but they are worth the effort. I will make a double batch and even though we only each eat one as part of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, the extra can be eaten for breakfast or cut up and put into an omelet later.
They aren’t an everyday healthy recipe, but are definitely worth making for a special meal!
Unusual Ingredients You’ll Need:
You’ll need a few ingredients that I don’t normally recommend and that can be tough to find. They are:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1.5 cups Risotto Rice (arborio rice)
- ½ red pepper, finely minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 3.5 cups broth (plus more)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 1.5 cups panko breadcrumbs
- ¾ cup parmesan cheese
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons butter (or more olive oil)
- 8 ounces fresh crab meat
- 1 (6.5 ounce) can minced clams (drain off liquid)
- ½ pound mozzarella cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes (optional)
- Oil for frying- I use coconut oil
- To make the risotto: Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Pour the Arborio/Risotto rice into the pan and stir so that it absorbs the oil. Add the red pepper and stir to combine.
- Pour the wine over the rice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated. Sprinkle the garlic powder, salt and pepper over the mixture.
- Add broth in ½ inch increments, waiting each time for the liquid to absorb before adding more. This is crucial to the correct texture. You may need to add ½ to 1 cup of extra broth, depending on your rice. The finished texture should be cooked but still slightly firm in the middle.
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- In a small skillet, melt the butter and add the crab meat and minced clams. Saute until heated to let flavors intensify.
- Once risotto cools, add the clams and crab mixture, the eggs, the parmesan cheese and ½ cup breadcrumbs and stir to combine.
- Heat oil of choice to 350 degrees in a fryer or large pan, making sure it is at least a few inches deep to allow room to cook.
- Form the mixture into 1 to 1.5 inch balls or patties (my preference for even cooking). If using mozzarella cheese, wrap each cube in the risotto mixture to make the balls/patties. Fry for 3-4 minutes in the oil until evenly browned. Remove and cool.
- Top with fresh chopped parsley (if desired) and serve.
Do you have any favorite recipes to make at Christmas?