Ragu and Pecorino Arancini Recipe

These battered and fried saffron rice balls are double-stuffed with a savory meat ragu and sharp, peppery pecorino cheese.
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Prep time: 20 minutes, plus overnight soaking
Total time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Makes: 34


for the ragu:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 sprig rosemary, leaves minced
8 ounces|225 grams ground beef
8 ounces|225 grams pork sausage, casings removed 
⅓ cup|80 ml red wine
1 cup|260 grams tomato paste 
kosher salt, to taste


for the arancine: 
4 cups|815 grams arborio rice
kosher salt, to taste 
2 sachets|2 teaspoons safflower or saffron pistils 
2 cups|500 grams meat ragu
5 ¼ ounces|155 grams|1 cup Pecorino, preferably Pecorino primosale, cut into 1 ½ centimeter cubes 
2 cups|275 grams (00) wheat flour 
2 cups|230 grams plain breadcrumbs
peanut oil, for frying 


  1. Make the ragu: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add the onion and rosemary and cook until soft, 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and sausage and cook, breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon, until golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the red wine and cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute, then add the tomato paste and cook until thick, 5 minutes. Season with salt and cool completely. 
  2. Make the arancini: Soak the saffron in 2 spoonfuls of warm water overnight. The next day, discard the pistils and save the water.
  3. Bring 5 cups|1.18 liters of water to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add the rice and season with salt. Lower the heat to maintain a low simmer and cook, stirring often, until al dente, about 30 minutes. Add the saffron water and stir to combine. Lay the rice in an even layer on a sheet tray to cool. 
  4. Once the rice has cooled and using wet hands, form into 36 (2 ounce|60 gram) balls. Fill each ball with about 1 tablespoon of ragu and 1 cube of cheese. 
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and 2 cups|100 ml cold water. The batter should be quite thick, similar to a crepe batter. Place each arancine in the batter, then roll it in the breadcrumbs. 
  6. Heat 2-inches peanut oil in a large saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°F|180°C. Working in batches, fry the arancini until golden on the outside, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt, then serve.

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