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Rice Balls Stuffed With Sausage Ragù

The rice balls can be completely assembled ahead of time. They are best when fried at the last minute, though you can also fry them in advance and reheat them in a 350-degree oven. This recipe makes a small amount of ragù to go inside the rice balls, but double the recipe to make a larger batch if you want to save some to use as a pasta sauce.

Ingredients (Produces ~20)


  • 2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 links sweet Italian Sausage, removed from casings
  • 4 ounces chicken livers, cleaned and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup finely chopped carrot
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup frozen peas, thawed


  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cups Arborio or other short-grain rice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Grana Padano

Coating & Filling

  • 20 ½ inch cubes of fresh mozzarella (from about 4 ounces of cheese)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups fine dried bread crumbs
  • 3 large eggs
  • kosher salt, for seasoning
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions for Rice Balls Stuffed With Sausage Ragù


  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the sausage.
  • Cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is no longer pink, about 4 to 5 minutes. Then add the chicken livers, and cook until they’re no longer pink – about 3 minutes.
  • Add the carrot, onion, and celery and ¼ cup of water. Simmer the water away to soften the vegetables a bit, then clear a space in the pan and add the tomato paste.
  • Cook and stir the tomato paste in that spot until it is toasted and darkens a shade or two, a minute or two, before stirring it into the vegetables.
  • Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and add the tomatoes and salt. Simmer, uncovered, until very thick and flavorful, about 15 minutes.
  • Let cool completely. Stir in the peas.


  • Bring the stock to a simmer in a large saucepan. Add the olive oil, rice, and salt.
  • Simmer, uncovered, until the rice is al dente, about 12 to 13 minutes.
  • Scrape onto a sheet pan to cool.
  • Once it’s cool, put the rice in a large bowl and beat in the eggs and grated cheese.

Coating & Filling

  • To form the rice balls, make a mound of rice in your palm and roll it into a small ball, 1½ inches in diameter. Make a depression in the ball with your thumb, and fill it with a piece of mozzarella and some ragù. Re-form the rice around the filling to seal it in.
  • Once you’ve filled all of the rice balls (you should get about twenty), place them on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Spread the flour in a shallow bowl and the bread crumbs in another, and beat the eggs in a third bowl. Season the contents of each bowl with a pinch of salt. Dredge the rice balls in flour, coating evenly, then in egg, then in bread crumbs, and rest them back on the lined sheet pan.

Final Steps

  • When you are ready to fry, heat 2 inches deep of vegetable oil in a medium Dutch oven to 365 degrees.
  • Fry the rice balls in batches as many fit in the pan without crowding, until crisp and golden brown all over, about 4 minutes per batch.
  • Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt.
  • Enjoy Lidia Bastianich’s Rice Balls Stuffed With Sausage Ragù!

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