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Nanny's Arancini (or Stuffed Rice Balls)

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This is the most coveted recipe in my family.We call them “ronginis” but they are arancini, or stuffed rice balls. My grandmother, Nancy Zito (we called her Nanny), was the only one who made them and she only made them for special occasions or holidays. She showed me how to do them when she was 90 in 2002. They're so good, you'll make them all the time!

Nanny's Arrancini (or Stuffed Rice Balls)

  • Servings: 1 ball
  • Yield: 24-30
  • Prep Time: 40 min
  • Cooking Time: 40 min


  • 1 cup Carolina white rice
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp grated Romano or Parmigiano cheese
  • 2 tbsp onion, chopped
  • ½ lb ground chopped pork
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • 1 oz raisins
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 oz mozzarella
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups plain bread crumbs
  • 2 cups vegetable oil


  1. Make one cup of white rice according to package direction, using a tiny bit more water – you want the rice thick. Drain any remaining water. Blend in 4 tbsp butter and grated cheese. Let sit until room temperature, then fold eggs into the rice and mix well. Set aside.
  2. Chop mozzarella into small pieces. Set aside.
  3. For the filling, melt 2 tbsp. butter in a skillet and add onions. When they’re translucent, add the ground pork and brown. Mix in tomato paste, sugar, and raisins. Set aside.
  4. Create an “assembly line”: rice, bread crumbs, meat filling, and mozzarella with a dish for the finished rice balls. You’ll be creating about 2” rice balls.
  5. Sprinkle one hand with bread crumbs, then spread rice in your palm. Spoon about ½ tsp meat filling, then a couple bits of mozzarella to the center of the rice and close to create a ball – add more rice if necessary. Roll in bread crumbs and place to the side. It usually takes doing a couple to get the hang of it. Keep going until you’re out of rice.
  6. Heat the oil in a deeper sauce pot. Using a small basket or slotted spoon, carefully place in the rice balls, leaving enough room to scoop them out. Remove from the oil when they become a golden brown. Place on paper towel to absorb excess oil.

See how they're made:


Here's Nanny making them in the '70's!

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