Mara's Rice Bomb / Mara's Rice Bomb


When I was first introduced to bomba di riso, I was very amused by the choice of words used to describe this impressive molded rice dish that is a staple in the kitchen of my friend Mara Neviani, who lives in Cavriago.

The origins of this dish are said to trace back to the town of Piacenza, where it is still prepared for the Feast of the Assumption on August 15th, known as Ferragosto. The procedure calls for Arborio rice, the short-grain starchy rice used in risotto. The rice is boiled in either chicken or beef broth, then packed into a ring mold that is lined with overlapping slices of cooked ham. The center of the mold is filled with a meat ragù. The contrasting tastes of delicately flavored rice and intensely flavored ragù is a delight. This dish makes a great presentation for company. The ragù can be made days ahead and the rice mold assembled a day prior to baking.


  • 1/2 pound boiled ham, cut thinly into approximately 4 1/2 by 6-inch long slices
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • - Warm water for soaking mushroomsjust enough to cover them
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into chunks
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 pound (2 1/4 cups ) canned peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • Fine sea salt to taste
  • Grinding coarse black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 2 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


  1. Lightly butter a 9 by 2 1/4-inch ring mold. Line the mold with the ham slices, overlapping them slightly so no gaps appear, and allow a 2-inch overhang over the rim of the mold. Cover the mold loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until ready to fill.
  2. Place the mushrooms in a bowl, cover them with warm water, and let them soak for 30 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Dice the mushrooms and set them aside.
  3. Mince the carrot, celery, and onion together with a chef's knife.
  4. Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan, stir in the carrot, celery, and onion and cook the vegetables over low heat until they are soft. Stir in the garlic and cook it until it begins to soften. Stir in the ground beef and cook it until it looses its pink color.
  5. In a bowl, mix together the tomatoes, tomato paste, and 1/2 cup of the reserved porcini liquid and add to the beef mixture. (Save the remaining porcini liquid to use when making soups or stocks.) Stir in the parsley, salt, and pepper. Cover the pan and simmer the ragu for 1 1/2 hours. Ten minutes before the ragu is cooked, stir in the mushrooms. The consistency of the mixture should be very thick with almost no liquid. Keep the ragu warm while the rice is cooking.
  6. Bring the broth to a boil in a soup pot. Stir in the rice, cover, and cook it, stirring occasionally, until all the broth is absorbed. Stir in the cheese, butter, and cream.
  7. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  8. Pack the rice evenly into the mold. Place the mold in a baking pan large enough to hold it and carefully pour hot water into the baking pan allowing it to come up to about 1 inch along the sides of the ring mold. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the rice is hot. Remove the mold from the water bath, and run a butter knife around the inside edge of the mold to loosen the ham and ensure that it will unmold. Place a serving dish larger than the mold over the top and invert the mold onto the dish. Fill the center of the mold with some of the ragu. Put the remaining ragu in a bowl to pass separately. To serve, cut the mold into wedges and spoon some of the ragu on the side.

This recipe was featured on Season 10 - Episode 1003.

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