The baked rice timbale is a classic recipe of the Neapolitan tradition for preparing a tasty and effective first course. Making a rice timbale may seem like an elaborate operation, but I assure you that following these simple steps is not complicated at all, and success is guaranteed.
Rice, a product imported by the Aragonese into the Kingdom of Naples, was not successful in the South – except in Sicily, where it was introduced by the Arabs. It was adopted by the Salerno School of Medicine and prescribed as a cure for the sick, but not by the people, who preferred pasta. Sartù probably arose from the need to adapt this dish to the taste of the court, under the influence of the Austrian queen Maria Carolina. The monsù, French court cooks, created this dish in the eighteenth century, enriching the rice with numerous ingredients and masking its flavor with tomato sauce. The very name of the dish would come from the French surtout, the centerpiece that was in use in the eighteenth century and which could also be used to bring sartù to the table, cooked as a timbale.