SERVES 8 TO 10
It was in Sorrento that I was first introduced to sartÃ¹, an impressive-looking rice mold with a meat and vegetable filling, but Naples lays claim to the dish. Today sartÃ¹ has many adaptations and has been simplified from the richer versions of the past, which contained chicken livers, sausages, cheeses, and assorted vegetables.
The most important thing to remember when making sartÃ¹ is to prepare the mold well by coating it with butter and bread crumbs, and then chilling it thoroughly in the refrigerator. The preparation, which can be done in stages, begins with making a risotto in which Arborio rice, a short-grain, starchy rice, is cooked slowly with the addition of hot broth.
The entire dish can be stored in the refrigerator for several hours or even overnight before baking. Use a 10-cup ring mold or charlotte mold for best results.
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups Arborio rice
4 to 5 cups hot beef, chicken, or vegetable broth
3/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons butter (for greasing mold)
1 cup toasted bread crumbs
1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino cheese
1 tablespoon Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced onion
8 ounces button mushrooms, wiped and sliced into thirds
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
Grinding of fresh black pepper
Generously butter the mold and coat it with the bread crumbs, pressing the bread crumbs into the mold if necessary. Cover and chill the mold for several hours, or overnight if desired.
To prepare the filling, in a bowl combine the pork, bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon salt, cheese, and egg. Mix gently with your hands to combine. With wet hands form small meatballs the size of gum balls.
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, and when it is hot brown the meatballs, in batches if necessary, until they are golden brown. With a slotted spoon remove the meatballs to a bowl and set aside. (At this point the meatballs can be refrigerated for 2 days in advance of assembling the dish.)
In the same sauté pan melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, stir in onions, and cook them until they begin to wilt. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms exude their juices and they begin to brown. Stir in the peas and cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and a grinding of black pepper. Combine the mixture with the meatballs.
To prepare the rice mixture, melt the 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy-clad 3-quart saucepan, add the rice, and cook it over medium heat, stirring constantly, until all the brains of rice are coated in the butter.
Slowly pour in the broth, 1 cup at a time, and continue to stir and let the rice absorb each addition of liquid before adding more. You may not need all the broth. The rice should be firm but cooked through. Stir in the grated cheese and remove the saucepan from the heat. Let the rice cool slightly, then stir in the parsley and eggs.
Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Remove the mold from the refrigerator. Line the bottom and the sides of the mold with about two-thirds of the rice mixture. Make sure there are no bare spots. Spoon the meatball mixture into the rice-lined mold. Cover the top with the remaining rice, patting firmly to ensure the edges are sealed with rice.
Cover the mold with aluminum foil and bake it for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the mold from the oven and let stand for about 5 minutes. Have a serving dish or platter ready. Place the dish on top of the mold. Use potholders to hold onto the mold and gently turn the mold over and out onto the serving dish. Do not remove the mold immediately. Let it sit for a few minutes, then shake the mold to make sure that the rice has been released. Lift the mold off and serve the sartù immediately.
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