Arancini with Pancetta and Garlic Sauce

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Arancini with Pancetta and Garlic Sauce
Arancini with Pancetta and Garlic Sauce

If you’ve never had arancini, I am glad you are here!

Arancini is a traditional Italian dish consisting of fried rice balls. Made with risotto, sometimes the arancini have peas or mozzarella inside. For this recipe, I included the mozzarella, but omitted the peas.

Crispy on the outside and soft and rich on the inside, arancini is a filling and delicious dish that is best served with tomato sauce.

If you’re stopping by here while searching for recipes, you may not know that the recipes here are all inspired by books! This particular recipe was created after reading The Four Winds.

The Four Winds is Kristin Hannah’s novel about a woman struggling to keep her family farm afloat during the Dust Bowl and her ultimate decision to move to California in hopes of a better future. Reminiscent of the Grapes of Wrath, The Four Winds is an epic tale of survivorship against great odds. If you love reading, check out more about this great book HERE!

This recipe for Arancini combines rich risotto, melty mozzarella, crispy panko, and a delicious garlic and pancetta sauce.

The flavors combine to create a warm and comforting dish that’s absolutely delectable.

The Four Winds Book Club Questions and Food Ideas
The Four Winds Book Club Questions and Food Ideas

Here’s what you’ll need to make Arancini with Garlic and Pancetta Sauce:

A quick list of equipment –

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Arancini with Pancetta and Garlic Sauce
Arancini with Pancetta and Garlic Sauce

Tips for Arancini with Garlic and Pancetta Sauce:

While some people are nervous about making risotto, I don’t think you should be. If you’ve ever made rice (not the minute kind!), then you should be able to handle it. It just takes a little extra time and attention.

Risotto will be a somewhat soupier version of rice. The important thing is to not overcook it and make it too dry. And, to use the right kind of rice. Arborio is recommended. I used the kind pictured below and available on Amazon.

Arborio Rice

This recipe is a labor of love. You will have to make the risotto first, chill it, then fry the arancini balls (made with risotto), and make the sauce to serve with the arancini.

If you are looking for a step to cut, I would just use store bought pasta or marinara instead of making from scratch. While I do love this sauce, I realize most people don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. So, for me, that’s the obvious step to go.

First Steps - Making the Risotto
First Steps – Making the Risotto
Making the Arancini
Making the Arancini
Arancini with Pancetta and Garlic Sauce

Arancini with Pancetta and Garlic Sauce

A delicious Italian dish made with risotto that's fried into delicious bite-sized balls and served with a rich tomato sauce! Inspired by the novel, The Four Winds!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Refridgeration/Freezer 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 15
Calories 312 kcal


For the Risotto:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3 – 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Arancini:

  • 4 oz Mozzarella chopped into 1/2” to 3/4” cubes
  • 1 cup Panko
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • Canola oil for frying

For the Garlic and Pancetta Sauce:

  • 3 oz pancetta chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


For the Risotto:

  • In a 2-quart pot, heat the chicken broth so that it is warm for the risotto making.
  • Meanwhile, in a 4-quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot,  add in the onion.
  • Cook until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add in the rice.
  • Stir to coat the rice completely in the oil and allow to cook, stirring frequently, until the rice turns fragrant and begins to turn translucent on the edges. It will also begin to make a popping sound. Add in the wine.
  • Cook until the wine is almost completely absorbed by the rice, but some moisture remains.
  • Ladle in 1 cup of the warm broth and cook until the broth is almost completely absorbed (about 5 minutes). Be sure to stir frequently to prevent sticking to the pan.
  • Ladle in 1 more cup of warm broth and repeat.
  • Ladle in the last cup of broth and repeat.
  • Taste test- the risotto should be creamy but still have a bite to it (al dente). If it is not quite al dente yet, add 1/2 cup more of broth and repeat step 6.
  • Remove from heat and add in the butter and Parmesan. Stir until the butter and cheese has melted and the risotto is creamy.
  • Spread into a pan and allow to cool for 10 minutes before covering and cooling completely  in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

For the Arancini:

  • Place the panko, flour, and eggs into 3 separate shallow dishes.
  • Using an ice cream scoop (about 2 tbsp), scoop the cold risotto into your palm.
  • Place one piece of mozzarella in the center and form a ball around the cheese with the risotto.
  • Dip the ball into the flour first, covering all sides. Repeat with the egg and then the panko.
  • Set on a parchment lined pan and continue until all the risotto is gone.
  • Place the pan of prepared arancini in the freezer for 10 minutes, while you heat the canola oil to 350 degrees F. (Heat in a large pan or in a deep fryer.)
  • Fry the arancini for 3-4 minutes, turning halfway through if the oil doesn’t cover the entire ball.
  • Remove carefully with a slotted spoon and place on a wire rack until all arancini are cooked.

For the Pancetta and Garlic Sauce:

  • Open the can of San Marzano tomatoes and pour the juice into a bowl. Over a separate bowl, take one tomato at a time and squeeze until the tomato’s juice and seeds release into the bowl. (Be careful, this is messy and could get on clothing!) Take the remaining tomato flesh and place into the first bowl with the tomato juice. Repeat with all tomatoes. You want to “drain” the tomatoes of seeds and watery juice in this step so that your sauce isn’t too watery or filled with seeds.
  • Using a hand blender, puree the tomatoes until smooth. Add in the salt, oregano, and olive oil and mix well.
  • Set the tomato sauce aside.
  • In a saute pan, cook the chopped pancetta until crisp.
  • Add in the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Pour in the tomato sauce and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Ladle the tomato sauce onto a plate and top with the desired number of arancini. Serve immediately.
Keyword Appetizer, arancini, italian appetizers, Italian arancini, main course, pancetta and garlic sauce, The four winds recipe

Don’t forget to check out the book that inspired this recipe, The Four Winds! And, let me know what you think of this delicious Arancini with Garlic and Pancetta Sauce!

Until next time, Happy Eating and Reading!

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. In the event of a sale, I will be awarded a small commission (at no extra cost to you or the featured book’s author). All opinions are 100% mine and every book, unless otherwise noted, is handpicked by me to be featured on the site.

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