"I don't think there is any recipe more fun or one that takes me back to the 1960s as the rendition that Carmen Rummo made for us at Principato di lucedio under the watchful eye of Contessa Rosetta Clara. This dish originates from the era during which Napoli and Palermo were part of the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The sartù in the name is a poor Italian translation of sur tout (in French, "above all"). While there are many resons for the "above all" addition to the title, these are the two that seem most authentic:
1. The rice is above and all around the various treasures inside the ring or crown.
2. The dish is so above all other dishes because it is so incredibly complicated. The work that goes into it makes it even more delicious.
I personally like to believe both of them!"
-Rolando Beramendi in AUTENTICO: Cooking Italian, the Authentic Way
Photo by Laurie Frankel
To make the rice: Fill a medium pasta pot (with a colander insert if you have one; imagine you are cooking spaghetti) with water and add the butter and a generous amount of salt. Bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the Principato di Lucedio Carnaroli or Arborio Rice. Cover the pot and wait until the water comes back to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, stir the rice every now and then to prevent it from lumping and cook until the rice is almost al dente, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the colander insert (or drain the rice in a fine-mesh sieve) and run the rice quickly under cold running water to wash off any excess starch. Pour the rice over a prepared baking sheet and use your hands to spread it out. Let cool, then toss with mild extra-virgin olive oil.
To make the meatballs: In a small bowl, combine the bread pieces and milk. Set aside for 5 minutes. Remove the bread and squeeze out the excess milk; discard the milk. Put the bread in a large bowl and add the ground beef, sausage, egg, garlic, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Measure out 1/2 teaspoon and roll into 1/2-inch balls.
Add enough of the cooking olive oil to a large, straight-sided sauté pan to come 1/4 inch up the side of the pan and place over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the meatballs in batches and sauté until browned and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.
To make the peas: In a medium sauté pan, combine the butter, scallion, and pancetta and sauté over medium heat until the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and white wine and bring to a boil. Boil until the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes, season with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.
To make the artichokes: In a medium sauté pan, combine the olive oil, garlic, and Masseria Mirogallo Artichoke Hearts and sauté until the hearts are warmed through, about 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
To make the tomato sauce: In a medium sauté pan, combine the Masseria Mirogallo Passata di Pomodoro and garlic and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly, then add the meatballs and cook until the meatballs are warmed through. Set aside.
To assemble: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Heavily butter a 9 1/2-inch ring mold and sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs. Spoon 2 1/2 cups of the rice into the mold (the rice should come about 1/2 inch up the side of the mold). Add the peas in one layer, then the artichokes. Spoon a third of the meatballs and tomato sauce over the artichokes. Top with the hard-boiled egg slices.
In a medium bowl, toss the remaining rice with the egg, cheese, and parsley and season with salt. Add 1/2 cup of the meatball and sauce mixture to the rice and stir to combine. Spoon the rice mixture into the mold and use the back of a spoon to press it into the pan. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs, pressing the bread crumbs in slightly with your fingers.
Bake until the top is golden, about 1 hour. Set aside to cool, then unmold onto a serving platter. Spoon the remaining meatball and tomato sauce mixture into the center of the crown and decorate with quail eggs. Serve at room temperature.
TO DRINK: Such an incredible dish deserves to be served with one of the most important wines of Campania, the "Montevetrano" made by the wonderful Silvia Imparato. This wine is in a class of its own.