Sartù di Riso al Ragù 

(Neapolitan Rice Timbale)

Serves 4


Made with Ugly Spicy Sauce


For the ragú:

2 cloves of Garlic

3-4 large Sausages (I used mushroom/pork sausages)

Extra Virgin Olive oil

Sea Salt

1/4 cup Dry Red wine

2 jars of Ugly Spicy Sauce

2 tblspn spicy Tomato ‘Nduja (optional)

A sprig or two of fresh Parsley, finely chopped

For the rice:

1 lb. of Risotto (Arborio or Carnaroli)

2 ladleful of the ragù above, mixed with enough additional warm water to make one one quart of liquid

Sea Salt

3 fresh eggs

3 1/2 oz. freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

A few sprigs of fresh Parsley, finely chopped

For the polpettine (little meatballs):

1/2 lb of ground Pork

1-1/4 oz. of freshly grated Pecorino Romano

3-1/2 oz. of Breadcrumbs

A few sprigs of fresh Parsley, finely chopped

Olive Oil for frying (or any vegetable oil like avocado oil)

For the rest of the stuffing:

One ball of unsalted Mozzarella cheese, sliced or cubed

1 oz. of Shitake or Porcini mushrooms

7 oz. of organic frozen Peas, thawed

For the mold:

Unsalted Butter


Homemade Timbale

Homemade Timbale


Step 1Start 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 2Precook 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 3Make 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.

mis en place

mis en place

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 unsalted butter (or, if you really want to be authentic, lard) then breadcrumbs. (I used a cruset pot as my mold and it worked out perfectly.) Make sure to line your 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…

rice wall and well

rice wall and well

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:

stuffing and cheese

stuffing and cheese

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 chunks of delicious butter.

well sealed with rice and chunks of butter

well sealed with rice and chunks of butter

Step 7: Bake the sartù in a moderate oven (350F) for a good 30-45 minutes, depending on the shape and size of the mold, until the top is golden brown.

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 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 Parm Regg or Pecorino Romano cheese for those who want some.

Timbale sliced

Timbale sliced

A slice of timbale with some ragu on the side

A slice of timbale with some ragu on the side