Mozzarella made me do it

Friday morning. The alarm goes off and I ignore it for about 6 times, the snooze button and my lazy person have been best friends for years now. Then, all of the sudden, the revelation: it is homemade pizza day! Time to jump off the bed and think about how many lovely ingredients I have in the fridge for my pizza. Spoiler alert: I had lots of little savory treats, and I wasn’t afraid to use them.

But this a story for another post, today we will talk about what happened after the pizza.

To make pizza, I usually cut the mozzarella and put it in the blender: once I get a nice cream, I put it in the sieve and I leave it to drain a couple of hours, as the last thing I want on my margherita is a swimming pool of mozzarella water. This time, as I said, I was planning to be naughty and have ALL the treats on my pizza: gorgonzola cheese, nduja (we talked about it in this post: https://theparmigianawhisperer.blog/2020/06/18/hot-stuff/), red onion and obviously mozzarella. However, I don’t think I planned my quantities very well: with all those ingredients, I clearly needed less mozzarella than a margherita would require. I still wanted my naughty pizza, so I ended up with a gorgeous dinner and an entire blended and drained mozzarella in the fridge.

What to do? The finest intellectuals would suggest to go wild and make another pizza, and to be honest with you this was my plan A. Then I remembered that in the most hidden corner of my freezer, almost ashamed to be there between my monthly stock of cornettos and my bone broth, I had a pack of frozen peas, obviously in mint condition.

Disclaimer: To be 100% transparent, in the same drawer I had frozen ragù, that made my life even easier for this recipe (evil laugh).

This was the perfect occasion to make a dish that I didn’t have in ages: timballo di riso! And for once, my Saturday lunch wasn’t going to be crackers and cheese, yay!!

In Italy timballo is usually made on a Sunday or during family gatherings. The name probably derives from the arab word “atabal”, which means “timpani” , the percussion musical instrument. This is due to the fact that once cooked, the timballo looks like a timpani.

Here is the recipe. I hope you like it as much as I do!

Ingredients for 4 people:

-Carnaroli rice, 250g

-mince beef meat, 300g

-ham, 3 slices

-carrot, 1

-white onion, 1/2

-celery stick, 1

-olive oil, 3 tablespoons plus some to grease the tray

-tomato passata, 200ml

-red wine, half a glass

-mozzarella, 1

-grated parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons

-peas, 150g

-breadcrumbs, enough just to spread it on top (I didn’t use it)

Steps:

  1. Chop the onion finely
  2. Put the oil in a pan and add the onion, let it cook at medium temperature until soft
  3. In the meantime, chop finely the carrots and the celery, and add them to the onion
  4. Add the meat and let it cook
  5. Add the wine and keep stirring until it evaporates
  6. Add the peas and the tomato sauce
  7. Let it cook for 90 minutes at low temperature
  8. boil the rice (or use a microwaveable one)
  9. one the rice is cooked, mix it with the ragù
  10. preheat the oven to 180° fan assisted
  11. grease a tray with olive oil
  12. cut the ham in squares
  13. add the majority of the mozzarella, the ham and parmesan cheese to the rice
  14. top the rice with the remaining mozzarella
  15. now if you want, you can add the breadcrumbs on top, I personally don’t like it
  16. cook for 20 minutes
timballo di riso