My Grandmother's Italian Timbale Recipe: Sartu di Riso
My grandmother says that this was her and her siblings' favorite dish when they were growing up in the country outside of Naples. It is still a family favorite, and she makes it for me every year on my birthday. This year, I stayed in the kitchen to cook with her and finally learned the family recipe.
1 one-pound box of Uncle Ben's Rice (converted long-grained rice). Any type of rice may be substituted, including risotto, but this is the type that my grandmother says tastes best.
1 quart of chicken stock (or 1 quart of water and 4 chicken bouillon cubes)
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
4 cups tomato sauce
1 lb. ground beef, formed into little meat balls
1 small ball of mozzarella, diced. Add more mozzarella if you want a cheesier casserole.
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter the inside of a large casserole dish.
2. Cook the rice in the chicken stock. Basically, just follow the package instructions, substituting the stock for water. Let cool completely.
3. Add all ingredients and 2 cups of the tomato sauce. Stir together well.
4. Pour mixture into casserole dish.
5. Spread a thin layer of sauce over the top, saving some for later.
6. Sprinkle with Romano cheese.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until it starts to bubble around the edges.
8. Let cool for 30 minutes. Cut into squares.
9. Serve with the remainder of the sauce and extra cheese on the table to be added if desired.
Serves 8 to 12, depending on portions.
-Please note that this is a family recipe, so we have never used exact measurements. I tried my best to make it as precise as I could, but if you have any comments, criticism, or suggestion, please let me know so I can make the recipe better.
-I have also had sartù with chicken livers, sausage, and peas. Some people coat the outside of the pan with rice, fill it with the sauce, meat, and cheese, then put more rice on top. They bake it and turn it upside down, creating a sort of rice and meatball pie. Don't be afraid to experiment!
-Fun Fact: In the movie "Big Night" the owners of an Italian restaurant drive themselves crazy preparing for a big visit from Louis Prima, and cook up some sartù di riso in the process.