Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Timballo of Rice with Peas

The Timballo gets its name from the fact that it looks like an inverted kettledrum (Timballo or Timpani). It is made like an Italian risotto, but is baked in the oven. Recipe serves 3-4.


3 ounces (90 g) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 ounces (60 g) ham, cut into small dice
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, plus a few sprigs to garnish
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
2 cups shelled peas, thawed if frozen
4 tablespoons water
5 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 3/4 cups risotto rice, preferably Arborio
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 ounces (180 g) Fontina cheese, very thinly sliced


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Heat half the butter and all the oil in a large, heavy-based pan. Cook the onion until soft, then add the ham and stir over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the parsley and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the peas, then season and add the water.
2. Cover the pan, and cook for 8 minutes for fresh peas, or 4 minutes for frozen peas. Remove the lid and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Spoon half the mixture into a dish. Heat the stock and keep it simmering. Butter a flat-based baking dish and line with non-stick baking paper.
3. Stir the rice into the pea mixture in the pan. Heat through, then add a large spoonful of stock. Cook until this has been absorbed, stirring constantly. Add the remaining stock in the same way, adding more liquid only when the previous quantity has been absorbed.
4. After about 20 minutes, when the rice is just tender, remove it from the heat. Season and mix in most of the remaining butter and half the Parmesan cheese.
5. Assemble the timballo. Sprinkle the bottom of the baking dish with Parmesan cheese, and spoon in half the rice. Add a layer of the Fontina slices and spoon over the reserved pea and ham mixture. Smooth level, and sprinkle with Parmesan.
6. Cover with the remaining Fontina slices and end with the remaining rice. Sprinkle with the last of the Parmesan, and dot with butter. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
7. To remove from mold, slip a knife around the timballo between the rice and the dish. Place a serving plate upside down on top. Wearing oven gloves, turn over dish and plate together. Peel off the lining paper. Serve by cutting into wedges.

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