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Sartù baked stuffed rice dish from Sicily and Naples

Sartù baked stuffed rice

The joy of the Sartù is how it incorporates the French elegance brought to Italy by the monsù with local ingredients typical in Sicilian and Neapolitan dishes.
This is a dish that really wows when brought to the table so it's great for guests.
Course First Course, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword rice
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 896kcal
Author Wendy


  • pressure cooker
  • Bundt pan


For the Neapolitan ragù sauce:

  • Two medium onions finely minced
  • 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ kg chuck (beef muscle)
  • ½ kg pork ribs about two
  • 200 g sausage (about one sausage)
  • 150 g dry white wine about ¾ cup
  • 2 kg tomato purée
  • 2 cups water

For the polpettine (meatballs):

  • 200 g ground pork twice ground
  • 200 g ground beef twice ground
  • 75 g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 35 g dried breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • ½ garlic clove minced
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley minced
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly grated black pepper
  • 1 cup flour for dusting the meatballs

For the rice:

  • 500 g Carnaroli arborio rice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • One cup water

Additional Ingredients for assembling the Sartù (timballo):

  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 120 g peas fresh or frozen (and defrosted)
  • 75 g provolone cheese cut into tiny cubes
  • 125 g Buffalo mozzarella cheese cut into tiny cubes
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs quartered
  • One cup dried bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter


Make the Neapolitan ragù sauce:

  • In a large saucepan gently sauté the minced onion in the extra-virgin olive oil until tender and translucent.
  • Add the beef chuck and sauté over a low flame for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until the meat is just beginning to brown.
  • Add the white wine, the tomato purée and half the water.
  • You can either slow cook the sauce stovetop (covered) for 2 to 3 hours in a heavy bottomed saucepan (or) in a pressure cooker and cook for 45 minutes.
  • This is absolutely a personal choice but I'm all in favor of using a pressure cooker in the interest of time.
  • As the sauce cooks stir occasionally so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the saucepan and, if necessary, add additional water.
  • Once the ragù is reduced and the meat is tender and falling off the bone your ragù is ready.
  • If necessary cook the ragù a little bit longer and add additional water if the ragù becomes too thick and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • The meat should be completely tender and falling off the bone.
  • Add salt to the ragù, to taste.
  • Remove the meat from the sauce and set aside. It can be served separately with the Sartù.
  • This recipe makes a lot of sauce and yields plenty of extra sauce to serve with the Sartù.

Make the meatballs:

  • While the ragù is cooking make the meatballs.
  • Line a large baking sheet with oven (parchment) paper and sprinkle generously with flour.
  • It's much easier to shape the meatballs if your hands are damp so set a bowl of water next to the mixing bowl you use to combine the meatball ingredients.
  • First, combine the ground pork and beef, grated Parmesan cheese, parsley, minced garlic clove, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper together.
  • Moisten your hands and form meatballs about the size of a marble or a hazelnut.
  • Set the meatballs on the floured baking sheet and roll them around until they are fully covered with flour.
  • Remove them from the flour and set them aside on a separate platter ready to fry.
  • Once you’ve formed all of the meatballs heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a heavy bottom saucepan.
  • When the oil is ready to fry – test by flicking a drop of water in the oil and if it sizzles it's ready – fry the meatballs a few at a time without overcrowding.
    cooking meatballs for Sartù
  • Turn the meatballs over after 30 seconds to a minute so they cook evenly and are golden on all sides.
  • Remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon and place on draining paper, or on a draining rack.
  • Continue frying the meatballs until they’re all fried.
  • Set them aside on a separate platter.

Assemble the remaining ingredients you need for the Sartù:

  • Hard boil four eggs, then shell them.
  • You can leave the hard-boiled eggs whole or cut them into quarters. - I prefer to cut them into quarters.
  • Shell the peas, or defrost the frozen peas.
  • Finely chop the provolone and buffalo mozzarella cheese.

Cook the rice:

  • Prepare the rice almost as if you were making a risotto.
    Cooking rice for sartù
  • Toast the rice in a sauce pan with the extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Add half the ragù and cook the rice for 17 minutes (set your timer!) until it's al dente - no longer.
  • If necessary add some water ( and a bit more sauce) to keep the rice from drying out.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese and half of the peas.
  • Set aside and let the rice cool to room temperature.

Assemble the Sartù:

  • While the rice is cooling down get all the filling ingredients ready to assemble the Sartù.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (180°C).
  • Generously butter a 26 cm (9 inch) Bundt pan.
  • Generously dust the pan with dried bread crumbs.
  • Begin assembling the Sartù by spooning ¾ of the rice mixture into the pan.
  • Use a large soup spoon to gently press the rice along the sides and bottom of the Bundt pan.
    Sartù rice in pan on sides
  • It should be about 1 cm thick on both the bottom and sides of the pan.
  • Add the ingredients in layers: first the hard boiled eggs, then the rest of the peas, ⅓ of the meatballs and the finely chopped cheese mixture.
    Assembling Sartù
  • Top the filling with spoonfuls of more the ragù.
  • Add the remainder of the rice mixture on top and use the back of the soup spoon to seal the rice.
    Sartù putting on top rice layer
  • Drizzle melted butter on top of the rice.
  • Generously sprinkle the Sartù with dry breadcrumbs.

Bake the Sartù:

  • Bake it for 40 to 45 minutes, uncovered.
  • If the Sartù starts to brown place a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over the top.
  • Remove the Sartù from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before plating and serving.
  • Before you invert the Sartù onto a platter gently shake it and use a knife to make sure it's not sticking to the sides of the Bundt pan.
  • Place your serving platter on top of the Bundt pan, quickly flip pan and platter over and lift off the Bundt pan.
  • Put the remaining meatballs inside the center and around the sides of the Sartù.
  • Ladle some of the remaining ragù onto the meatballs and, if you like, on top of the Sartù.
  • Sprinkle with a little bit of grated Parmesan cheese and serve along with the meat from the ragù and the remaining sauce.


My Ragù recipe makes a lot of sauce and you may use it all for the Sartù or you may  have quite a bit left over. That's never a problem because you can always use it for another pasta dish - it's better to be safe than sorry!
You can be a bit flexible with the cheese. Some recipes say only provolone, some say only mozzarella and I've used both in my recipe.
You can also go with a little bit of flexibility with the meatball ingredients but my recipe incorporates the best elements for these tasty little polpettine and reflects traditional Sartù recipes.
Peas – fresh or frozen – are always part of a Sartù.
Hard-boiled eggs can’t be skipped. Some recipes say to use whole hard-boiled eggs and others chopped hard-boiled eggs and I found that quartered hard-boiled eggs work well because when you slice the Sartù and serve it everyone will get some hard-boiled eggs.
Only arborio rice and I definitely prefer Carnaroli. Close attention to the rice cooking time is also important.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 896kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 61g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 33g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 148mg | Sodium: 1727mg | Potassium: 937mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1286IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 260mg | Iron: 4mg