Arancine alla norma (Eggplant)
Introduction to the recipe
Pasta alla norma, a typical recipe from Catania that has become popular throughout Sicily, is a pasta topped with tomato sauce with basil, fried aubergines and salted ricotta. The recipe owes its name to the comedy writer from Catania, Nino Martoglio, who lived during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is said that, upon tasting this dish, he exclaimed, “Chista è ’na vera Norma” (“This is a true Norma”), thus comparing the excellence of its flavour to Vincenzo Bellini’s operatic masterpiece.
When transposing it into an arancina, we respected the original recipe, the only change being the thickness of the sauce, which is much more reduced and concentrated in comparison with the sauce intended for pasta.
Ingredients for about 12 arancini
For the rice:
- 500 grams of rice ("Roma" and "Originario" rices, mixed in equal doses)
- 1.1 liter of vegetable stock
- 2 bags of saffron
- 10 grams of salt
- 60-100 grams of butter
For the finish:
- 100 gr of flour
- 180 ml of water
- 2 eggs
- 150 gr of bread crumbs
For the filling:
- 2 black aubergines
- 200 ml of passata of cherry tomato
- 80 gr of salted ricotta
- 1 clove of garlic
- some fresh basil leaves
- extra virgin olive oil
- black pepper
Preparation of rice and filling
How to prepare the rice:
- In a saucepan, put the broth, the butter, the saffron and the salt
- When the stock is boiling, add the rice and mix well
- Cover and cook over low heat until the rice absorbs all the broth and is cooked but al dente
- When cooked, stir, pour the rice on a cold surface and spread evenly to allow rapid cooling
- When the rice is cool down, it is ready to prepare the arancini
It is important to let the rice dry well during cooking. It should not be too hot or too wet, or it could stick to the mold.
For more information about rice, Click here.
- Trim the ends off of the aubergines and dice them evenly
- Place the diced aubergine into a colander and sprinkle it with coarse grain salt. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, so that the bitter-tasting moisture contained in the flesh will drain off
- When the thirty minutes are up, rinse the aubergine cubes thoroughly and pat them dry with a dish towel or paper towels
- Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large pan. When it is very hot, fry the aubergine cubes a few at a time, so as not to lower the temperature of the oil, then place them on absorbent paper
- Chop the basil finely
- Use the flat of a knife blade to crush a whole, unpeeled garlic clove
- Sauté the garlic clove in a drizzle of olive oil until it has just begun to turn golden, then add the aubergine. Sauté it in the oil so that it takes on the flavour of the garlic, then add the cherry-tomato purée and the basil
- Cook over low heat for about ten minutes, then remove from the heat and let it cool
- Add the shavings of salted ricotta and mix it in well
- Shape the arancini and put in the freezer a couple of hours before passing the arancini in the batter
Shape the arancine
The finishing touch
Put the arancini in the batter and in the bread crumbs as follows:
- In a bowl, place the flour
- Add the egg and water and beat well with whips
- When the batter is smooth and dense, pass the arancini
- Immediately after having passed them in the batter, pass the arancini in bread crumbs
- Fry in plenty of oil until golden brown, to ensure your arancini fry up perfectly, use one of the following oils: peanut oil, olive oil, or palm oil.
- Heat the oil to the ideal temperature, 190°C, either in a frying pan or by setting the temperature on your deep fryer.
- If using a pan, you can make sure that the oil has reached the proper temperature by dropping in a bread crumb. If it sizzles, then the oil is ready.
- Immerse the arancini gently in the oil, only a few at a time, so as to prevent the temperature of the oil from falling too low.
- When they are done, place the arancini on absorbent paper, then serve.
- Serve the arancini.
Enjoy your meal !
If you are not fond of salted ricotta, you can substitute it with any primosale (an unripened sheep's cheese) that melts well.
To make your arancine alla norma even more delicious, you can mix tiny pieces of fried aubergine into the rice.
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- Arancinotto Staff