Tomato, basil and melty mozzarella baked rice

By Antoni Porowski
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SERVES
8
 TO
10

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 (828 milliliters) cans whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, with their juices
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano (114 grams), plus a Parm rind, if you have one, and more grated cheese for serving
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
  • 2-1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, for the pan
  • 1 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 (227 gram) ball fresh mozzarella

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent but not browned, about five minutes. Add the garlic, two of the bay leaves, and a pinch of salt, then stir in the tomato paste and cook until the paste begins to caramelize, about two minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and their juices, breaking the tomatoes apart with a wooden spoon. Then bury the Parmesan rind, if using, and the bunch of basil in the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened and the flavors have developed, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the Parm rind (if you used it) and the basil. Set the sauce aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot, combine the rice, broth, and the remaining two bay leaves. Bring just to a boil over high heat, reduce to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook, without removing the lid, for 15 minutes. The rice should be al dente. Give the rice a stir, transfer it to a large bowl, and let cool until it’s just warm to the touch, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Heat the oven to 400oF, with a rack in the middle.
  5. Stir the grated Parm into the cooled rice. Adjust the salt if necessary (it should taste nicely seasoned), then stir in the eggs to thoroughly combine. Generously butter the inside of a 12-cup Bundt pan, including the central tube with all the butter. Add 3/4 cup of the bread crumbs, then tilt the pan to coat all sides. Using your hands, line the bottom and sides of the pan, including the central tube, with an even layer of the rice, using about three quarters of it and bringing it up to about one centimeter from the top of the pan. Tear the mozzarella into small shreds and scatter over the bottom layer of rice. Add all but about one cup of the tomato sauce, then cover with the remaining rice, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon to seal the edges. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs and brush them with oil (which will give you a nice crispy crust).
  6. Bake until the top is golden brown and the edges are crispy, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for ten minutes. Meanwhile, gently rewarm the sauce.
  7. Invert the rice onto a large serving plate. Fill the cavity with the reserved tomato sauce. Garnish with basil leaves, then top with Parm and a drizzle of oil. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.

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This recipe appears in Antoni in the Kitchen (© 2019)

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