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Sartù di riso (Neapolitan baked rice) recipe

Sartù di riso (Neapolitan baked rice) recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Beef
  • Beef mince

This rich dish is traditional of Naples, where it's served for Christmas or any special meal. It requires some work but you can divide the prep over several days let it rest so the flavors will mix better.

6 people made this

IngredientsServes: 8

  • For the meatballs
  • 250g beef mince
  • 100g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 200g crusty white bread, soaked in water
  • 1 sprig parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 dash white wine
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sunflower oil, for deep frying
  • For the baked rice
  • 500g Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 1L ready made tomato sauce (rather runny, not too thick)
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 knob butter
  • 1 handful breadcrumbs
  • 200g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 200g mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 150g mortadella sausage, finely sliced

MethodPrep:1hr ›Cook:30min ›Extra time:3hr freezing › Ready in:4hr30min

    For the meatballs

  1. Place in a large bowl the mince and egg. Squeeze the bread, tear it in pieces, and add with the grated Parmesan cheese, parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix everything adding a bit of white wine (not too much, the mixture needs to stay firm).
  2. Wet your hands and roll the mixture between your palms to make small meatballs, the size of a hazelnut. Heat the oil in a pan and deep fry the meatballs, a few at a time. Do not cook too long, they are cooked through and golden brown in a few minutes. Drain on kitchen paper.
  3. For the baked rice:

  4. Reheat the tomato sauce. Peel and slice the hard boiled eggs.
  5. Cook the rice in abundant salted water for half the time indicated on the package, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well.
  6. Transfer to a bowl and add butter, 2 ladles tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan and the beaten egg. Mix well.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
  8. Grease a 33x22 baking dish with butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Spread 2 ladles of tomato sauce on the bottom and add half of the rice. Cover with all the meatballs, mozzarella, mortadella, sliced hard boiled eggs and half of the grated Parmesan. Add some more tomato sauce.
  9. Cover with the remaining rice and add the remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Grill the top during the last 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with aluminium foil and let stand until set, up to 2 hours. When it's time to serve pop it quickly in the oven if it needs reheating.

Make ahead

This baked rice is the ideal dish for a busy holiday meal simply because you actually have to prepare it in advance. In order for the ingredients to mix and gain flavor, make it the day before serving, cover in foil and let sit on the counter for a few hours, then refrigerate and reheat briefly before serving.

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Sartù di Riso: The Elaborate Rice Timbale From Naples

This 18th-century Neapolitan dish debuted in the royal court of Maria Carolina of Austria, the wife of Ferdinand IV and III, King of Naples and Sicily. Sartù di Riso is essentially a timbale — though one made from rice, not pasta – with meat sauce that’s stuffed with hard-boiled eggs and peas and served with meatballs.

Its name derives from sor tout a Neapolitan term that means "cover everything." It refers to how the breadcrumbs cover, or “cloak” the timbale. Give it a try at home with the following recipe.

Sartu Di Riso

Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

Giada is a chef, mother, author and restauranteur. She is known as the Emmy-award winning television personality of Food Network’s Everyday Italian, Giada at Home, Giada In Italy, as a judge on Food Network Star, NBC Today Show correspondent, for her eight New York Times best-selling cookbooks and her debut restaurant, GIADA, in Las Vegas. Though most days, you can find her in Los Angeles with her daughter, Jade and kitten, Bella, whipping up something delicious in the kitchen involving parmiggiano reggiano or her weakness, dark chocolate!


Step 1: Start by making the ragù,

sautee garlic until golden, remove ground meat from sausage casing and add to pot. Brown the sausages a bit (not completely) and then add the 2 jars of Ugly Spicy Sauce, Tomato ‘Nduja, red wine and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes (mixing a couple times). Set aside.

Step 2: Precook the rice:

Mix the ragù and water together, season generously with sea salt. (Taste the liquid to make sure it is quite savory.) Put the rice and the liquid together in a saucepan, bring to a boil. Stir once, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and let cook for 15 minutes, stirring only once about halfway through. The liquid should be fully absorbed and the rice should still be slightly underdone, rather chalky to the tooth.

Then transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl and let it cool completely, then add the remaining fresh eggs, cheese and parsley and mix. Taste and adjust for seasoning—the rice should be very flavorful.

(While the rice is simmering, you can saute your mushrooms.)

Step 3: Make the polpettine (little meatballs):

Mix all of the ingredients listed together by hand in a large bowl. Form them into the smallest meatballs you can manage, about the size of a hazelnut, rolling them between your palms. Fry your little meatballs in abundant oil until they are nicely browned on all sides. Make sure that you leave lots of room in the pan for them to fry properly you will probably need to fry them in batches. Since they’re so small, they will cook in only a few minutes. Drain them on paper towels.

Step 4: Mis en place:

Slice the mozzarella and get your peas. You should now have everything ready to go: your rice, your mushrooms, the little meatballs, the frozen peas, your sliced mozzarella. Lay them out on your work space so you’re ready to put everything together.

Sartù di riso (Neapolitan Rice Timbale)

When we think of Neapolitan cooking—and southern Italian cooking in general—we think of pasta and pizza. So it may come as a surprise that one of the most emblematic dishes of Neapolitan cooking is actually a rice timbale, the sartù di riso. The word sartù, the story goes, is an Italianized version of the French phrase sur tout, which means ‘above all’—a reference to the rice that covers the rich meat and vegetable filling of this extraordinary timbale.

And therein lies a tale. You see, back in the day Naples was the capital of southern Italy—a separate country known as the ‘Kingdom of the Two Sicilies‘ and ruled by French Bourbons. The Bourbon nobility liked to live and eat high on the hog, and their local cooks, known as the Monzù—another Italianization, this time of the word Monsieur—went out of their way to please their noble masters with elaborate French-inspired dishes using local ingredients their vast repertoire makes up a whole sub-cuisine, la cucina dei Monzù. It was perhaps the first example of a consciously contrived fusion cuisine. And it explains, at least in part, why Neapolitan cuisine is so rich in pasticci and timbali and other fancy dishes.

The sartù is arguably the best known of the traditional Monzù dishes. There are several kinds of sartù, but they mainly fall within two categories: those in rosso (‘red’, ie made with tomato sauce) and those in bianco (‘white’, without). The white version is the original, or so they say, but it is the red version that is the more popular today. Today’s post is about the version called sartù di riso al ragù. The rice is flavored with a rich ragù della domenica or Sunday Sauce the stuffing is made with the sausages that went into the ragù and polpettine, those same tiny meatballs that go into lasagna, mixed with peas and mushrooms—the French touch! It’s a kind of fancy, Frenchified lasagna di Carnevale.

Like lasagna, the sartù is not an everyday dish—it involves several steps and take some considerable time and effort. Best to plan ahead. You can make the ragù, for example, the day before, the polpettine and rice the morning of, and then put everything together when you feel like it. In fact, the whole thing can be assembled ahead of time, then refrigerated until you want to cook it.


Makes enough for 4-6 people

  • One large onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 3-4 large sausages (mild ‘Italian’ type)
  • Olive oil (or, better, lard)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Red wine
  • 2 large cans of tomatoes (800g/28 oz.) passed through a food mill, or the equivalent of crushed or puréed tomatoes
  • A sprig or two of fresh parsley
  • 500g (1 lb.) of rice for risotto (see Notes)
  • A ladleful (or two) of the ragù above, mixed with enough additional water to make one liter/one quart of liquid
  • Salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g (3-1/2 oz.) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped

For the polpettine (little meatballs):

  • 250g (1/2 lb.) of chopped beef, pork and/or veal (see Notes)
  • 50g (1-1/4 oz.) of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 100g (3-1/2 oz.) of breadcrumbs or day-old bread, trimmed and soaked (see Notes)
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Olive oil for frying (or another vegetable oil)

For the rest of the stuffing:

  • One ball of fiordilatte, mozzarella cheese made with cow’s milk (see Notes), sliced or cubed
  • 25g (1 oz.) of dried mushrooms (preferably porcini) soaked in water until soft
  • 200 g (7 oz.) of frozen peas (or a small can)


Step 1: Start by making the ragù, using the ingredients listed above and following the method for Angelina’s Sunday Sauce.

Step 2: Precook the rice: Mix the ragù and water together, season generously with salt. (Taste the liquid to make sure it is quite savory.) Put the rice and the liquid together in a saucepan, bring to a boil. Stir once, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and let cook for 15 minutes, stirring only once about halfway through. The liquid should be fully absorbed and the rice should still be slightly underdone, rather chalky to the tooth.

Then transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl and let it cool entirely, then add the remaining eggs, cheese and parsley. Taste and adjust for seasoning—the rice should be very flavorful.

(NB: While the rice is simmering, you can let your dried mushrooms soak.)

Step 3: Make the polpettine: Mix all of the ingredients listed above together in a large bowl. Form them into the smallest meatballs you can manage, about the size of hazelnut, rolling them between your palms. Fry your little meatballs in abundant olive oil until they are nicely browned on all sides. Make sure that you leave lots of room in the pan for them to fry properly you will probably need to fry them in batches. NB: Since they’re so small, they will cook in only a few minutes. Drain them on paper towels.

Step 4: Set up your mis en place: Fish out a few of the sausages from the ragù and slice them up. Slice the mozzarella and get your peas. You should now have everything ready to go: your rice, your soaked mushrooms, the little meatballs, the frozen peas, your sliced mozzarella. Lay them out on your work space so you’re ready to put everything together.

All ready to go: slices sausages, tiny meatballs, pre-cooked rice, peas, soaked mushrooms and slice mozzarella.

Step 5: Prepare the stuffing: Mix together the sausages, meatballs, peas and mushrooms. Nap them with a ladleful of ragù and mix so they are well coated. Taste and adjust for seasoning the stuffing should be rich and savory.

Step 6: Assemble the sartù: Line a mold of your choice very generously with butter (or, if you really want to be authentic, lard) then breadcrumbs. (I like to use a Charlotte mold, but there are other possibilities see Notes below.) Make sure to line the mold very well. This step is really important to avoid the rice sticking to your mold. And that would be a real shame after all the effort you’re putting in…

A well-lined mold is the key to a successful sartù

Take two thirds of the rice mixture and line the bottom and sides, leaving a large well in the middle for the stuffing. Make sure the rice makes a rather thick ‘wall’ around the sides, enough to hold up the finished timbale. Add the stuffing into the well, starting with a layer of mozzarella, then the stuffing ingredients, proceeding in layers until you’re almost (but not quite) up to the top of the mold, like so:

Then add the rest of the rice and flatten it out so it is flush with the top of the mold. Sprinkle with some more breadcrumbs and dot with some more butter (or lard).

Step 7: Bake the sartù in a moderate oven (180C/350F) for a good 30-45 minutes, depending on the shape and size of the mold, until the top is golden brown. (If using a ring mold or individual molds, it will be done in more like 20-30 minutes.)

Step 8: Rest: Remove the sartù from the oven and let it rest for a good 10-15 minutes. (It can wait up to 30 minutes if you like and some recipes tell you to do so. The longer the wait, the more solid the sartù will be.) Again, this step is critical to keep the sartù in shape.

Step 9: Unmold the sartù by placing a large plate over the top of the mold, then, using oven mitts or towels so you don’t burn yourself, holding and flipping both mold and plate over together. Then, with the mold upside down on the plate, give the bottom (now the ‘top’) of the mold a good wack with a heavy knife or mallet or something to loosen it from the mold. Gently lift the mold up, just a smidgen, shaking it a bit until you feel the sartù come loose from the mold and drop onto the plate.

Step 10: Serve the sartù whole, cutting it at table like a cake for your dinner guests, along with a sauce boat of the remaining ragù and some freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese for those who want some.

A nice slice of sartù, with ragù and grated cheese. Yum!


The best rice for this dish is one of the varieties that are suited for making risotto: arborio, Vialone nano or Carnaroli. Given the amounts needed, I usually use the (relatively!) inexpensive arborio for making a sartù. In a pinch, any short grained rice will do you need a ‘starchy’ variety that will hold together when the sartù is unmolded. If you want to use easier to find long grain rice, it may work if you add some extra egg for binding. (No guarantees, however, as I haven’t tested this out!)

The chopped meat can be beef, or a mixture of beef and pork, or a mixture of beef, pork and veal, or you prefer. Just make sure it’s not too lean, or else your meatballs will be a bit dry.

The mozzarella should be fresh, if possible, the kind you buy in its water. But you needn’t go to the expense of using a true mozzarella di bufala, made from the milk of the water buffalo, for a dish like this, where the mozzarella gets mixed up with all sort of savory ingredients. A simple and much less expensive fiordilatte, or mozzarella made with cow’s milk (which, in any event, is what you will more likely find here in the States) will do fine. And, in a pinch, you can even use the ‘dry’ kind of mozzarella that comes wrapped in plastic wrap. If so, I would cube the mozzarella rather than slice it, as it tends to be a bit tough. If using fresh mozzarella, let it drain well before using so it doesn’t turn the stuffing soggy.

Depending on the size of your mold, you may well wind up with extra rice, ragù or stuffing, but that’s fine. Better too much than too little, so the measurements given above are generous. Leftover ragù has a million uses it can be frozen and used for lasagna on some future Sunday, or just on some spaghetti anytime you feel like it. Leftover stuffing is wonderful reheated on its own, perhaps with a bit of leftover ragù if you have it, or tomato if you don’t, as a kind of stew, or as a condimento for pasta. Either the stuffing and/or the rice can be used to make a nice frittata as well. If you have all three leftover, you can make mini sartù, or sartuncini, for another meal.

Speaking of molds, I like to use a medium-sized Charlotte mold for making sartù, as pictured above. It makes for an impressive, ‘dramatic’ presentation at table, especially as you slice it and the rich stuffing comes pouring out… But many people these days use a ring mold, which is quicker to cook and easier to slice. You can even use very small molds for elegant individual portions. The only point is to make sure you line your mold very well with butter and breadcrumbs and then let the sartù rest before you attempt to unmold it otherwise, you risk the sartù sticking to the mold, which won’t be very pretty (but still delicious). To get around this, some cooks make sartù as a kind of casserole, to be spooned out of a baking dish rather than unmolded, which is undoubtedly less nerve-racking but a lot less fun.

As mentioned, there are several types of sartù. In her classic cookbook La cucina napoletana, Jeanne Caròla Francesconi presents fives different versions, two in bianco, two in rosso and one made with fish rather than meat. the sartù di riso in bianco is said to be the original version. There is also another version in rosso, made with a simple tomato sauce rather than ragù, which makes the dish (slightly) less time-consuming to make and, of course, a bit lighter. It’s probably more in line with today’s tastes, but personally I like this ragù version the best of all. Francesconi, by the way, suggests letting the stuffing ingredients (other than the mozzarella) gently sauté in a soffritto of lard, onion and prosciutto, then adding some ragù and simmering for about 10 minutes. This extra step no doubt adds another layer of flavor.

Francesconi calls for an even more elaborate stuffing, adding chicken livers and, like some lasagna, wedges of hard boiled eggs, to the ingredients listed in this recipe. In fact, as you can well imagine, the recipe lends itself to all sorts of variations, especially in the stuffing. You can add more or less meatballs or stuffing or peas or mushrooms as suits your taste. I’ve seen recipes for cooked ham in the stuffing. And so on ad infinitum. Some people like to add some peas and/or mushrooms to the rice as well. Sartù is a dish that lets you play and individualize according to your taste. But—mi raccommando!—do try the classic version first.

Sartu di Riso

When it comes to traditional Neapolitan cuisine, I don’t think it gets much more incredible than sartu di riso. It was something my Nana Lulu made for special occasions but it seemed too intimidating for me to cook myself. When I saw a recipe for it though, it just spoke to the Italian in me and I had to try making my own version! It took some time, work and love but oh my goodness was it worth it! I started on the filling first by making my homemade gravy.

The key to flavor in my gravy is what I affectionately call the “package of deliciousness”. I cut the rind off of the parmesan wedge I was using and wrapped it up in cheesecloth with thyme, bay leaves, rosemary and peppercorns. I submerged that package of deliciousness in a big pot of aromatics, red wine and crushed tomatoes. That was going to become one amazing gravy for the sartu di riso! Then I started on the meatballs. The first step was to make a panada. I soaked bread in milk instead of using breadcrumbs. It was an incredible way to make juicy meatballs! I worked that milk soaked bread in with the rest of the meatball ingredients and quickly formed them. These meatballs were going to be the star of the sartu di riso! I browned the meatballs and then added them to the gravy. I also added a bunch of frozen peas. All of that goodness simmered together for 2 hours. While the filling for the sartu di riso simmered, I cooked the rice for the crust. Once it cooked and cooled, I stirred in lots of parmesan and a couple of eggs to finish it. I greased my bundt pan very liberally with butter and dusted it equally well with breadcrumbs. That was so important to make sure the sartu di riso would come out! Then I used wet fingertips to form the rice into the pan to make the crust. I mixed diced up fresh mozzarella into my meatball filling and spooned it into the well of the bundt pan. There was lots of sauce leftover for serving! I used my remaining rice to form the bottom of the sartu di riso and dotted the bottom with butter so it would brown up a little. Then it was ready to bake!

Once it baked for 45 minutes, I let the sartu di riso cool for at least 30 minutes. Then I used my offset spatula to very gently loosen it more from the sides and middle of the pan. I put my big cake plate on top of the bundt pan upside down, said a little prayer and flipped it over. I left the bundt pan on for a minute, then gently lifted it off. The sartu di riso was ready to serve with extra sauce! I was so excited to eat that I forgot to take a photo of it in its entirety. Let me tell you, the work was all worth it. The rice was buttery and firm as the crust, with the incredible gravy and meatballs as the filling. What a showstopper! Buon appetito, friends. xoxo

Sartu di Riso

Rachel Roddy’s Neapolitan beef and onions recipe

I n the middle of Benedetta Gargano’s flat in Naples is a white, oval table. The table once lived three streets away in the dining room of Benedetta’s maternal grandmother, Elisa, where the extended family would sit at least three times a week when they all gathered to eat. And eat they did: Elisa was, by all accounts, a fine Neapolitan cook, her polpette al pane (meatballs baked on bread), sartù di riso (moulded and stuffed rice), panzerotti fritti (filled, folded and deep-fried dough) were all particularly loved. Loved, too, were her two alternating Sunday dishes – ragù napoletano and la genovese – both of which provide a sauce for the pasta course and the meat for the second course.

It is la genovese I smell as I reach Elisa’s house on Via Tasso, a snake-like road that curves its way through the boisterous city, then rises with the hill of Posillipo to give spine-tingling views of the bay of Naples. The scent of beef and onions cooking slowly leaves no room for doubt as to which door is about to open.

I first met Benedetta at a dinner last year. We talked about two things: soap operas – mostly EastEnders and its rather more sunny Neapolitan counterpart, Un Posto al Sole, for which Benedetta is a scriptwriter – and the lunch she would one day cook for me: la genovese. There are various stories about its origin – sailors from Genoa being the most familiar – but it became a Neapolitan classic.

By the time I arrive at Benedetta’s door, an hour later than planned, la genovese is entering its “second stage”. The first, she explains, begins with pouring a little olive oil into a deep pan. To that is added a 1kg piece of rolled beef, topped with 2kg of sliced onion, a diced carrot, a diced stick of celery, 100g diced pancetta and a pinch of salt. Then it is covered with the lid and left on a low flame for an hour and a half. An occasional stir helps the onions collapse and, while they do, the meat – happy in this steamy braise – cooks and lends its deep flavour.

Once the onions are about a fifth of their original volume and the meat cooked, it’s time for stage two. Benedetta pulls out the beef, raises the heat so the onions pappulìano (splutter), adds a glass of wine and stirs for another 30 minutes. Patience pays off, and the onion thickens into a silky almost-cream, its colour marrone-ambra, and its taste as savoury-sweet as can be.

Ask someone to show you how to make something and you almost always get more than just a recipe – especially if the person happens to know how to write a good story. Benedetta’s own tale is an enchanting one: as a four-year-old whose mother didn’t cook, she learned recipes from her grandmother, and kept them alive because she wanted to, not because she had to. Elisa lived until she was 97, spending her last three years living at Benedetta’s flat where, in a sort of full circle, she would ask Benedetta to make her the very dishes she had once taught.

By one o’clock, the sauce is ready and the sunny kitchen filled with a scent as stirring as the stories and memories. I am appointed taster, and given a great blob of sauce on a cushion of bread to check for salt. La genovese sauce is stirred through a pasta called candele – hollow tubes reminiscent of slim candles. After the pasta, we eat slices of the meat which, having lent its flavour, is repaid with another blob of the silky onion sauce, marrone-ambra against the white of Elisa’s table.

Baked Italian rice (timballo di riso)

Timballo is an impressive rustic Italian dish perfect for weekend entertaining. You could be very organised and cook the sauce 1 day ahead if you like, then all you need to do on the day is make the risotto, assemble and bake.



Skill level


  • 1 kg ripe tomatoes
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 fresh basil leaves
  • 5 sprigs parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 225 g diced pork sausage
  • 225 g diced chicken
  • 225 g diced lean pork
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 cupsarborio rice
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) dry white wine
  • 5½ cups chicken broth
  • freshly grated Parmigiano
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 120 g unsalted butter
  • ⅓ cup dry breadcrumbs

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


To make the sauce, place the tomatoes, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, basil and parsley in a heavy saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon, cover, then cook over very low heat for 1 hour. When cool, place in blender and add salt and sugar to taste.

Warm ⅓ of the butter and ⅓ oil in a heavy based pan over medium heat. Sauté the sausage until lightly golden brown. Remove and place on kitchen paper to drain. Repeat with each meat in the same pan. Combine tomato sauce with meats and simmer for a further 30 minutes.

To make the risotto, Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add onion and cook until the onion is transparent. Add rice and stir for 2-3 minutes, add wine and cook until almost evaporated. Meanwhile, simmer broth and gradually add broth to rice, one ladleful at a time, until rice is barely tender (about 10-15 minutes). Stir through parmesan, nutmeg and adjust seasoning.

Preheat oven to 200ºC. Grease the base of a 30 x 25 cm baking dish with the butter and sprinkle over some of the breadcrumbs (shaking off and keeping any excess).

Cover the bottom of baking dish with half the risotto. Spread the meat mixture over, cover with remaining risotto and top with remaining breadcrumbs.

Bake for 20 minutes until crust is golden brown and warmed through. Allow to stand for 5 minutes for flavours to penetrate. Serve with salad.

Sartù di riso: Naples’ decadent take on Christmas food

Traditional sartù di Riso. Photo: G2studio/Dreamstime

The sartù di riso is one of Naples’ traditional dishes for Christmas: it’s a deliciously rich mix of rice, meat, cheeses and peas, baked and served in slices. As it often happens in our cuisine, the sartù has an interesting history and even its name needs to be explained. The word sartù is the distortion of the French “sour tout” or “on everything,” in reference to the breadcrumbs covering the entire dish. The recipe itself was created to … make rice more palatable to the Neapolitan court. Let’s see why!

We are in the 18th century, when Ferdinand I of Bourbon is king. His wife, the Austrian Maria Carolina, wasn’t too fond of Neapolitan cuisine, so she hired a bunch of French chefs — called monsieurs at court and, mockingly, monsù in Naples’ streets — to work in the kitchens of the palace. One of the queen’s favorite ingredients was rice, but the relationship between Naples and the cereal wasn’t good: arrived in the 14th century from Spain, it was known at court as sciacquapanza, that is, bland and uninteresting: a food for the poor and for the sick. In fact, it was mostly administered by doctors when people suffered from intestinal or gastric diseases, including cholera.

The monsù, therefore, had the difficult duty to ensure the queen could eat her rice, but also that her husband would not complain about it. This is how they came out with the sartù: they mixed the rice with Neapolitan staples like meatballs, ragù and fiordilatte, with the precise aim of masking the taste of rice, so that Ferdinand would eat it. Needless to say, it was a success.

A slice of sartù. Photo: G2studio/Dreamstime

The traditional recipe for sartù is the one below, but many versions exists, with a variety of fillings being allowed. The most famous alternative is the one for sartù bianco, without the tomato sauce: to make it, the rice is flavored with sugna (lard) and the filling is made with meatballs only.

Ingredients (for a 8x5in baking mold)

  • 2 1/2 cups of Carnaroli rice (500 grams)
  • 5 1/2 oz fiordilatte
  • 2 cups of peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 4 1/2 oz of egg (this roughly equals 2 large or 3 small to medium eggs)
  • A pinch of salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp grated parmigiano
  • 12 oz of pork ribs (320 gr)
  • 1 1/2 lb of beef ribs (700 gr)
  • 12 oz of sausage (320 gr)
  • 10.5 oz of yellow onions
  • 4 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups of tomato passata sauce
  • 4 1/2 tbsp of red wine
  • 1 1/3 cup of water
  • 7 oz of ground beef
  • 6 tbsp of grated parmigiano
  • 1 tsp of chopped parsley
  • 2.7 oz bread without crust (75 gr)
  • A pinch of salt
  • Frying oil
  • 1 egg
  • Black pepper to taste
  • breadcrumbs
  • butter
  • Let’s start with the ragù, the most laborious of our preparations. In a frying pan, sauté the finely chopped onion and all the meats on low heat for a few minutes, adding the wine. When it has fully evaporated, add the tomato passata, the water and a pinch of salt. Let the meat and sauce cook on a low heat for at least 4 hours, adding water when necessary. Once it’s done, separate the meat from the sauce and set aside.
  • For the meatballs, soak the bread in cold water for about 10 minutes. After, place the ground meat in a large bowl and add the slightly beaten egg, the parmigiano and the bread, ensuring you have squeezed all the water out first. Add salt, pepper and the parsley, then mix well until you obtain a nice, smooth mixture. Now, make your meatballs rolling small amounts of meat in your palms and remembering they shouldn’t be too big. Heat up some frying oil in a pan and fry the meatballs for about 3 minutes. Once they are ready, let them drain in a plate covered with kitchen paper, to absorb the excess oil.
  • We now need to take care of the eggs and the rice!
  • Take a pan, fill it with cold water and place the eggs to boil in it. When the water begins to boil, cook the eggs for 9 minutes, then drain them and cool them under cold water, peel them and then slice them as thinly as you can.
  • Take again the meat sauce, result of your ragù, add 200 ml of water (about a cup), add the rice and let it cook on medium-low heat: the rice must absorb all the sauce, a bit like when you make risotto. Once it’s ready, set aside and let cool.
  • In a bowl, beat together the eggs, salt , pepper, grated parmigiano and mix well. Then pour the mix on the cooled rice and keep on mixing.
  • Take your baking mold, butter it and dust generously with the breadcrumbs: they have to stick quite homogeneously to the buttered surface.
  • Pour some of the rice and egg mixture in the mold and press around the walls with the back of a spoon to form a “casing” about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Slice the sausage you cooked for the ragù and dice the fiordilatte. Add a first layer of the sliced eggs and mozzarella, then the peas, meatballs and sliced sausage, repeating every layer until you finish the ingredients. Finish up with a layer of egg and top it with the remaining rice.
  • Cover with breadcrumbs and some butter.
  • Cook the sartù in a pre-heated oven at 180C (360F) for 1 hour.
  • Let it cool for about 10 minutes, and serve.

Il sartù di riso è uno dei piatti tradizionali di Napoli per il Natale: è un mix deliziosamente ricco di riso, carne, formaggi e piselli, cotto al forno e servito a fette. Come spesso accade nella nostra cucina, il sartù ha una storia interessante e anche il suo nome ha bisogno di una spiegazione. La parola sartù è la deformazione del francese “tout sour” o “su tutto”, in riferimento al pane grattugiato che ricopre l’intero piatto. La ricetta stessa fu creata per … rendere il riso più appetibile alla corte napoletana. Vediamo perché!
Siamo nel XVIII secolo, quando Ferdinando I di Borbone è re. Sua moglie, l’austriaca Maria Carolina, non amava molto la cucina napoletana, così assunse un gruppo di cuochi francesi – chiamati monsieurs a corte e, beffardamente, monsù nelle strade di Napoli – per lavorare nelle cucine del palazzo. Uno degli ingredienti preferiti dalla regina era il riso, ma il rapporto tra Napoli e i cereali non era buono: arrivato nel XIV secolo dalla Spagna, era conosciuto a corte come sciacquapanza, cioè insipido e poco interessante: un cibo per i poveri e i malati. Infatti, veniva somministrato per lo più dai medici quando si soffriva di malattie intestinali o gastriche, tra cui il colera.
I monsù, quindi, avevano il difficile dovere di garantire alla regina di poter mangiare il suo riso, ma anche che suo marito non se ne lamentasse. Così tirarono fuori il sartù: mischiarono il riso con ingredienti napoletani come polpette, ragù e fiordilatte, con il preciso scopo di mascherare il sapore del riso, in modo che Ferdinando lo mangiasse. Inutile dire che fu un successo.
La ricetta tradizionale del sartù è quella sottostante, ma ne esistono molte versioni, con una varietà di ripieni consentiti. L’alternativa più famosa è quella del sartù bianco, senza la salsa di pomodoro: per prepararlo, il riso viene aromatizzato con la sugna e il ripieno è fatto solo con polpette di carne.

Ingredienti (per uno stampo da forno 8x5in)

– 2 tazze e 1/2 di riso Carnaroli (500 grammi)
– 5 oz e 1/2 di fiordilatte
– 2 tazze di piselli (freschi o congelati)
– 2 uova sode
– 4 oz e 1/2 di uovo (equivale all’incirca a 2 uova grandi o 3 piccole e medie)
– Un pizzico di sale
– Pepe a piacere
– 4 cucchiai di parmigiano grattugiato

12 oz di costolette di maiale (320 gr)
– 1 libbra e 1/2 di costolette di manzo (700 gr)
– 12 oz di salsiccia (320 gr)
– 10,5 oz di cipolle gialle
– 4 cucchiai e mezzo di olio extra vergine di oliva
– 3 tazze di passata di pomodoro
– 4 cucchiai e mezzo di vino rosso
– 1 tazza e 1/3 d’acqua

– 7 oz di carne di manzo macinata
– 6 cucchiai di parmigiano grattugiato
– 1 cucchiaio di prezzemolo tritato
– 2,7 oz di pane senza crosta (75 gr)
– Un pizzico di sale
– Olio per friggere
– 1 uovo
– Pepe nero a piacere

Cominciamo con il ragù, il più laborioso delle nostre preparazioni. In una padella fate soffriggere la cipolla tritata finemente e tutte le carni a fuoco lento per qualche minuto, aggiungendo il vino. Quando sarà completamente evaporato, aggiungete la passata di pomodoro, l’acqua e un pizzico di sale. Lasciare cuocere la carne e il sugo a fuoco lento per almeno 4 ore, aggiungendo acqua se necessario. Una volta fatto, separare la carne dal sugo e metterla da parte.
Per le polpette, immergere il pane in acqua fredda per circa 10 minuti. Dopo, mettete la carne macinata in una ciotola capiente e aggiungete l’uovo leggermente sbattuto, il parmigiano e il pane, assicurandosi di averne prima spremuto via tutta l’acqua. Aggiungete il sale, il pepe e il prezzemolo, quindi mescolate bene fino ad ottenere un composto bello e liscio. A questo punto, fate le polpette arrotolando piccole quantità di carne nei palmi delle mani e ricordate che non devono essere troppo grandi. Scaldate un po’ di olio per friggere in una padella e fate soffriggere le polpette per circa 3 minuti. Una volta pronte, lasciatele scolare in un piatto coperto di carta da cucina, per assorbire l’olio in eccesso.
Ora dobbiamo occuparci delle uova e del riso!
Prendete una padella, riempitela di acqua fredda e metteteci le uova a bollire. Quando l’acqua comincia a bollire, fate cuocere le uova per 9 minuti, poi scolatele e raffreddatele sotto l’acqua fredda, sbucciatele e poi affettatele il più sottile possibile.
Riprendete la salsa di carne, risultato del vostro ragù, aggiungete 200 ml di acqua (circa una tazza), aggiungete il riso e lasciate cuocere a fuoco medio-basso: il riso deve assorbire tutto il sugo, un po’ come quando si fa il risotto. Una volta pronto, mettete da parte e lasciate raffreddare.
In una terrina sbattete insieme le uova, il sale, il pepe, il parmigiano grattugiato e mescolate bene. Poi versate il composto sul riso raffreddato e continuate a mescolare.
Prendete lo stampo da forno, imburratelo e spolveratelo generosamente con il pangrattato: deve aderire in modo abbastanza omogeneo alla superficie imburrata.
Versate un po’ del composto di riso e uova nello stampo e premete intorno alle pareti con il retro di un cucchiaio per formare un “involucro” spesso circa 1/2 pollice.
Tagliate a fette la salsiccia che avete cucinato per il ragù e fate a dadini il fiordilatte. Aggiungete un primo strato di uova e mozzarella a fette, poi i piselli, le polpette e la salsiccia a fette, ripetendo ogni strato fino a quando non avrete finito gli ingredienti. Finire con uno strato di uova e ricoprire con il riso rimasto.
Coprite con pangrattato e un po’ di burro.
Cuocete il sartù in forno preriscaldato a 180C (360F) per 1 ora.
Lasciate raffreddare per circa 10 minuti e servite.

Sartu di Riso

If there’s one thing that I absolutely love, it’s experimenting with food and making unique dishes. Yes, pasta is good and grilled chicken is good, but those are too plain-Jane for me. I need to spice things up and make unique foods that are fun to eat, and this Sartu di Riso was definitely unique!

First things first: I did not come up with the concept of this dish. I would be a genius if I had, but no, this dish has been around for ages. Sartu di Riso is a traditional Neapolitan dish where rice is molded into a crust that gets filled with meatballs, sauce, veggies, cheese, and sometimes eggs. However, there are several different versions of this dish that can be made, and like any dish, this recipe is slightly different from household to household.

I came across the concept of this dish when I was watching the Food Network on TV and saw Giada de Laurentiis making a Sartu di Riso in a bundt pan. By the end of her show, my mouth was watering and I knew I wanted to re-create this dish. I got started looking up different recipes online, and I found that some recipes were made in traditional casserole dishes, while others were fancy and made in bundt cake pans. I knew right away that I wanted to go for the fancy version and make mine in a bundt pan!

When it came time for me to start making this dish, I got a little bit of a later start than I was hoping, so I didn’t have all that much time before my parents got home from work and would be hungry for dinner. Even though I got the common consensus that most Sartu di Riso recipes were stuffed with ground meet in addition to homemade meatballs, I didn’t feel like taking the time to make my own homemade meatballs, so instead, I improvised with what I had and made it work. That’s the beauty of recipes – no one said you had to make them exactly like the original recipe. You have the freedom to customize a recipe however you’d like, and that’s just what I did with this dish! We had some leftover Italian sausage links that we had grilled the day before, so I cut three of those up and added them to the mixture. Just as good, right?! I’m sure I’ll get around to making this dish with meatballs one day, but for now, the sausage worked just perfectly.

Surprisingly, this dish was much easier and quicker than I expected it to be. In no time at all, I had the rice cooked, the filling cooked, and I was ready to start assembling. Personally, I chose to melt some butter to grease the bottom and sides of the pan – this way, there would be a little extra flavor and richness added. However, oil works just as well!

Next, it was time to press the rice mixture into the pan. When I made it, I put about 2/3 of the rice mixture into the bottom of the pan, however I think this was too much. I would recommend using half (at most) of the rice mixture in the bottom of the bundt pan, and then using the rest on top of the filling. This way, when you flip the pan after it’s done baking, there will be more rice to help support the cake when you flip it. Also, here’s another tip: be sure to coat not only the bottom of the pan, but also up the sides of the bundt pan, as well.

When the rice mixture is pressed down, it’s time to add the filling. Now you’re going to have a lot of extra filling, so don’t add all of it to the pan! I’d say to use about 2/3 or so of the meat mixture, but use your best judgement and make sure there’s still enough room for the remaining rice at the top of the pan.

After the filling is in the pan, I topped it with a few slices of cheese, and then I topped it with the remaining rice mixture and a sprinkle of breadcrumbs. Then, it was into the oven it went, and I got started cleaning up the mess I had made! In no time at all, the Sartu di Riso was baked and ready to be removed from the oven.

Even though I wanted to dig in right away, I let the dish cool for about 20 minutes in its pan before completely removing it. I was in a bit of a rush so I only waited 20 minutes, however if you have more time to wait, I would recommend waiting at least 30-40 minutes before trying to remove it from the pan. When you are ready, hold a plate over top of the pan, flip the pan, and hope that it comes out clean!

Unfortunately, as you can see, mine did not come out very clean. When I first flipped the pan, only the bottom rice mixture came out, and the filling/remaining rice was still stuck in the pan. I was so bummed! I took a rubber spatula and ran it around the edges of the pan, flipped it back over, and luckily, the rest came out without an issue. So now do you see why I mentioned that it would be best to add most of the rice mixture on the top of the filling? I added too much to the bottom, and I think that weighed everything down and crushed the dish when I tried to flip it. But even though it wasn’t perfect, it still looked pretty good! Almost like a giant sandwich.

When I set the table with all the food, my dad walked in and said, “Oh… you baked us another cake?” (I had just made them an apple cake for dessert two days before). I just looked at him and said, “do you think I would serve you cake for dinner? Look closely!” Sure enough, he looked again and realized that it wasn’t a dessert, but that it was, in fact, dinner!

Since there was a ton of extra filling, I placed it on the side, and that way my parents could place a slice of the Sartu di Riso onto their plates and top it with more filling. Once they dug in, they were really impressed. My mom could immediately pick out the flavors that I used, and she said she really liked this dish. My dad was also a big fan, but he said there was too much rice compared to filling. However, as soon as he topped it with the extra filling, he said it was much better. So if anything, just don’t forget to top it with extra filling! And don’t put too much rice on the bottom of the pan!

Watch the video: CCFI Nantes - Sartù di riso (June 2022).


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