This dish seems like it has nearly everything in it. The name comes from the French surtout, meaning “above all.” Not surprisingly, it is a recipe the imported French-trained monzù, or chefs, served to Neapolitan royalty in the eighteenth century. This is your chance to share in their delicious excess. Indeed, some cooks make even more elaborate versions of this rice casserole, or bomba, by cooking the peas in butter with prosciutto, adding sausage along with the meatballs, or using a rich cream sauce to bind the filling.
To cook the rice, bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil. Add
To make the meatballs, in a bowl, combine the beef, bread crumbs, egg, and Parmesan and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Fry up a tiny nugget of the mixture, taste it, and then adjust the seasoning. Form the mixture into about 20 small meatballs, each about the size of an unshelled hazelnut (about
While the meatballs are cooking, begin to soak the porcini mushrooms in hot water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, and chop finely. Pour the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Set the mushrooms and liquid aside.
To make the rest of the filling, in a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and golden, about 15 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the chopped porcini and the chicken livers, and cook rapidly for 3 minutes to color the livers. Stir in
Set aside one-third of the cooked rice. Using the remaining rice, pat a layer about
Reheat the remaining sauce in a small saucepan over low heat. Run a knife along the inside of the pan sides to loosen the rice, then unclamp and remove the pan sides. Slide the casserole onto a serving plate, cut into wedges, and serve accompanied with the warm sauce. Pass the Parmesan at the table.
We need a big red wine here. An Aglianico red from Campania such as Taurasi Riserva, a Super Tuscan, or a Cabernet Sauvignon will stand up to the richness.
© 2004 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.