Italian Appetisers

How to make rice balls with ragù filling

A classic arancini al ragu or rice balls with ragu filling! 

Arancini are Sicilian rice deep fried delicacies served with various stuffings, this is the recipe for the one with ragù filling. 


rice balls with ragù filling


  • 21.16 oz of ground beef;
  • 1 stalk of celery;
  • 1 carrot;
  • 2 bay leaves;
  • 1 onion;
  • half glass of red wine;
  • 7 oz of tomato paste;
  • diced Provolone cheese;
  • 18 oz of Arborio or Carnaroli Rice
  • 5.30 oz of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese



  1. Heat 4-6 spoons of extra virgin olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and sautè the celery, onion and carrot previously diced and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add  minced beef over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together until browned.
  3. Add the wine and when it has evaporated, add salt and pepper, then the tomato paste and bay leaves.
  4. Cover with hot water, mix well, put a lid on and let it simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  5. For the arancini we need the sauce to be thick.
  6. Then let it cool down before start using it for the filling.

Prepare the rice

  1. Place some olive oil and a nod of butter in a pan, then stir in the rice and add salted warm water (or vegetable stock) little at the time, then a spoon of tomato paste or saffron.
  2. Let it cook for about 18 minutes, continuing to add water if necessary until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice and it is all cooked.
  3. Add some grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
  4. Spread the rice onto a tray and set it aside to cool.
  5. It is even better if you make it a day in advance.
  6. While the rice and the ragù are resting, prepare a bowl with breadcrumbs.

Now you can start preparing the arancine.

  1. When the rice and filling have cooled, place a couple of tablespoons of rice in the palm of your left hand (assuming you are right-handed) and using the fingers of the other hand form a cup-like mound of rice.
  2. Fill the hollow with a generous teaspoonful of the meat filling and cheese cubes, then with your right-hand cover the filling with more rice if necessary, sealing the edges and molding it into a ball or a cone.
  3. No filling should show.
  4. Bind the arancina by rolling it in the breadcrumbs, making sure that the ball is completely covered.
  5. Set the bound arancina to dry on a rack while you make the others.
  6. Fry the arancine a few at a time in abundant and very hot oil until they are rich golden brown (it is crucial that there be more than enough oil to cover them completely; otherwise they will burst).
  7. Lift out and drain on absorbent paper.





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