Main Course, Pork, Sides

Sausage and Rice Timbale

14 Comments 01 June 2011

Does anyone know how to pronounce timbale? Maybe like, tim-ball? Every time I tried to explain to someone what we were making, I’d stumble over the pronunciation, have to explain I’d never heard it before, etc. I also looked it up online, but I haven’t found very much information on it. Apparently it’s a particular kind of mold that food is cooked in, or also refers to the food itself that is cooked in it. Okay then!

We don’t have a traditional timbale mold, of course. This recipe calls for an 8-inch springform pan instead. Thank goodness because I’m not about to go hunt down some special pan I can’t even find much info on. And neither are you, I bet. A coworker pointed out this recipe to me and I was really taken with how unique it looked. It is a little bit of a challenge to make, but not one that even a novice cook couldn’t handle. It just takes a little time and some patience. You could certainly make this on a weekday night if you wanted to, but it will take a little longer than Rachel Ray meals, just be aware. More than anything, I’d say this would be a good one to serve alongside a main course for guests, who would probably really appreciate the effort you’ve gone to. And not that your family wouldn’t appreciate it, but unless your only cooking for two or three, you might want to make something else to go with this. Personally this and a veggie are fine for my family.

Sausage and Rice Timbale

There are lots of ingredients in this recipe, but fortunately they’re all relatively easy to get these days in local stores.

Sausage and Rice Timbale

Fresh basil really infuses this dish with great flavor – there’s 1/2 a cup called for. Several eggs help the rice portion of the dish set up to create a container for our filling.

Sausage and Rice Timbale

I didn’t have any breadcrumbs, so we made our own. Very easy since the recipe only calls for a few tablespoons. Try this idea from Food Network’s Five Ingredient Fix show if you’d like to make your own, too.

Sausage and Rice Timbale

Onions, just one whole one diced up, but essential for any kind of Italian-esque sauce, don’t you think?

Sausage and Rice Timbale

Other essentials – chicken stock, provolone cheese, tomato paste and arborio rice.

Sausage and Rice Timbale

The arborio rice is cooked much like pasta, water drained and then spread out on a pan to cool before adding it to an egg and cheese mixture.

Sausage and Rice Timbale

The beginnings of the timbale filling, which smelled absolutely sensational! The house smelled so good for the rest of the day.

Sausage and Rice Timbale

Time to start layering in the pan and create a timbale dish! The pan has been buttered and lightly lined with the breadcrumbs.

Sausage and Rice Timbale

The rice/egg/cheese mixture is pressed into the pan, about a half-inch thick on the bottom and sides. Just eyeball that as best you can. Next, a layer of provolone cheese goes in.

Sausage and Rice Timbale

Next, layer in that absolutely mouth-watering saucy filling. The recipe calls for some to be reserved and served alongside the finished meal, but you would really need to make extra in order to do so. We had about 1/2 a cup left over, but that’s obviously not enough to serve for guests.

Sausage and Rice Timbale

Finish off the layering by adding another layer of provolone ( a suggestion made by my coworker, and added to the original recipe) and pile on the rest of the rice to create a container of sorts, then sprinkle on some reserved cheese. I do wish at this point that we’d used more cheese on top, so be aware you might need more than the recipe calls for if you’re a cheese lover. What little is used becomes crisp and slightly browned.

Sausage and Rice Timbale

Warning: this will smell even better after it’s been cooking in the oven. The smells will draw hungry people to the kitchen and compliments will probably be flung about with plenty of enthusiasm. And that’s before they’ve even tasted it.

Sausage and Rice Timbale

This small dish is served up wedge-style and held up fairly well for us. I might have been able to bake it just a little longer than the recipe called for, but we felt it came out very well in the end. It’s a very satisfying meal, perfect for guests or your hungry family. Enjoy!

Sausage and Rice Timbale

from Food Network Magazine

Prep Time: 20 minutes    Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes    Level: Intermediate    Servings: 4-6

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 pound Italian pork sausage (preferably luganega), casings removed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups grated pecorino romano cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 4 ounces deli-sliced provolone cheese (6 slices)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring once or twice, until the rice is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain, shaking the colander to remove any excess water. Spread the rice on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and place a baking sheet on the middle rack. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 6 minutes. Tear the basil and add to the skillet along with the garlic and tomato paste. Increase the heat to high and cook, stirring, until the tomato paste browns, about 4 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Coat the pan with the breadcrumbs, tapping to remove any excess. Put the eggs and all but 3 tablespoons of the pecorino cheese in a small bowl and beat with a fork. Put the cooled rice in a bowl; add the egg mixture and stir to combine.

Transfer about two-thirds of the rice mixture to the prepared springform pan. Using moist fingers, pat the rice onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan, forming a 1/2-inch-thick layer. Place three of the provolone slices over the rice in the pan. Spoon about three-quarters of the sausage filling over the provolone, filling it to 1/2 inch from the top. Place the other three slices of provolone on top of the filling. Pat the remaining rice mixture on top to enclose the filling, then sprinkle with the remaining 3 tablespoons pecorino cheese. Put the pan on the hot baking sheet and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool, 10 minutes.

Run a small knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the timbale, then remove the side of the pan. Slide a spatula under the timbale and transfer it to a platter. Thin the remaining sausage filling with a splash of water and reheat. Serve with the timbale.


Some options for you to consider: Add more cheese to the top of the timbale before baking. The original three tablespoons will be OK, but a couple more tablespoons would probably help the dish brown more on top. It does give the dish a nice, slightly crunchy texture up top.

If you think you’d like more of the sauce to serve with the dish, make extra. The recipe really only makes enough for the timbale itself, and not much is leftover to serve with it.

If you’re all about presentation, buy some extra fresh basil to tear and sprinkle over the dish and around the plate. I wish I’d done this myself. The package I bought didn’t have as much in it as I thought it did.

The provolone – the recipe originally calls for it added only on the bottom of the dish, but my coworker suggested the extra top layer, and it was great!

The rice – I did think it was a little bland compared to the sauce. While some may think a plainer rice would complement a stronger-flavored filling, I think next time I’ll add a little more salt and some fresh cracked pepper to the rice/egg/cheese mixture, and maybe even some dried Italian herb seasoning. It all depends on your tastes.

If your not up to making this entire dish as-is, I suggest the sauce itself as a phenomenal one to serve with your favorite pasta. It reduces down nicely to a ragu-like texture, thickening slightly.

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- who has written 347 posts on Full Fork Ahead.

Wife, mom, indulgent reader and Day Job Do-er, who occasionally likes to think she can cook. Sometimes she's right, sometimes she's wrong.

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Your Comments

14 Comments so far

  1. Natasha A. says:

    This looks VERY yummy!!!!

    • KMont says:

      Natasha, it is pretty tasty stuff! Hubby was surprised but happy to see it thrust at him that day for lunch. ;D

  2. Jimmy Joe Johnson says:

    looks and sounds great

    • KMont says:

      Jimmy, thanks for the link! I’d seen that one the other day, and that’s about the extent of the info I’ve been able to find most anywhere I’ve looked.

  3. Kay Ecker says:

    Looks delicious and your photos are all so pretty too! I may have to steal this recipe from you;o)

  4. I just made it, leaving the provolone out and using a ham, corn, red bean & bbq sauce. Absolutely delicious! Thanks for the wonderful idea.

  5. KMont says:

    Kay, thanks so much! And please do, I hope you like the recipe. 🙂

    Efthimia, that’s great! It really is a good one to play with and change up.

  6. compostingathome says:

    Several of my friends have tried this already and they all loved it! I was pleased at how rich and flavorful the sauce was, and its combination with the rice mixture was really quite nice. Definitely a good one to experiment with!

  7. Kathy says:

    Have a look at this film- all about how to make the perfect timbale!!

  8. Shane says:

    I made this stuff back when the recipe first came out. My wife had read the recipe and her mouth started literally to water. She pulled me over, pointed at the screen and said “I want that, _tonight_!”

    Lets just say that it was good that she ate more than was comfortable for her that night, cuz the leftovers she took to work mysteriously disappeared. Nowadays she notices strange people poking about her lunchbags from time to time; frankly, im not surprised LOL!

    • KMont says:

      Gasp! People are poking around in her lunch? Tsk, tsk, all they need to do is do a little cooking themselves lol.

  9. Sweetp says:

    Regarding your musings about the pronounciation of timbale… best I can gather it is pronounced like thimble without the H sound. Just a tip, I love the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary site, and there is a nice feature there. After you search and find a word, you can click on the little speaker icon and get a soundbyte of the word being pronounced. Looking forward to exploring your site. Enjoying what I see so far. Thank you.

  10. Heather Elissa says:

    First off that looks amazing and I cant wait to make it. Second I love using arborio rice usually for risotto or arancini it is always cooked in broth or stock and white wine for added flavor cook the rice in broth or stock I dont think the wine would work the same way though lol.

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