Bomba di Riso (Stuffed Rice Cake) with Shredded Duck

This molded baked rice cake filled with juicy duck is said to have been a favorite dish of composer Giuseppe Verdi’s.

Bomba di Riso (Stuffed Rice Cake) with Shredded Duck

Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 20 mins
6 servings

At the iconic restaurant Ostreria Fratelli Pavesi in Emilia-Romagna, the three Pavesi brothers pay homage to a mid-19th-century delicacy: the molded baked rice “bomb” stuffed with a hearty filling of shredded duck and earthy porcini mushrooms. 

Yes, the name is “OsTREria”, not osteria – and three (“tre”, in Italian) is the magic number for brothers Giacomo, Giuseppe and Camillo who run the restaurant, housed in a farmhouse outside Piacenza, in the agricultural bedrock, flat and languid, of Emilia-Romagna. While Giuseppe oversees the front of house, Giacomo is in the kitchen and Camillo is in charge of the production of goodies sold with the label “Bottega Pavesi.” Both menu and wine list are born of an obsessive research on small producers, mostly local. The key, as for many of Italy’s younger restaurateurs, is finding the perfect balance between tradition and a contemporary demystifying approach. The result is a series of cult dishes celebrating some of the best recipes and ingredients of this part of the country, particularly meat, charcuterie and a supreme selection of fresh pasta, in true Emiliana tradition. 

With their Bomba di Riso, the Pavesi brothers pay homage to an almost forgotten delicacy: a molded baked rice “bomb” filled with juicy meat that is thought to date back to the mid-19th century and is said to have been a favorite of composer Giuseppe Verdi’s. It’s one of those dishes that used to unite the nobility and working class. In the mountains, people would fill it with a ragu of freshly caught game, like pheasant; in the countryside it was made with guinea fowl, duck, chicken, even rabbit; the official version calls for pigeon, which was a staple of the affluent table. 

At Ostreria, there’s a vegetarian version filled with gooey Taleggio cheese in a crust of “Spring rice”, made with up to 20 different kinds of vegetables (including beet which turns the rice a delicate shade of pink). The secret to a perfect bomba? A juicy filling is still the difference between failure and success. — Laura Lazzaroni


  • 2 cups dried porcini mushrooms

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided, plus more for greasing

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup) 

  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 2 confit duck legs (6 to 7 ounces each), shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

  • 1 cup beef stock

  • 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs, divided

  • 2 cups carnaroli rice, rinsed

  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place mushrooms in a medium bowl, and add warm water to cover. Let stand until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain mushrooms, reserving soaking liquid. (If needed, strain to remove any grit from liquid.) Roughly chop mushrooms, and set aside.

  2. Heat 1/4 cup butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add onion, celery, and carrot; cook, stirring often, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, and cook, stirring vigorously, 1 minute. Add shredded duck, and cook, stirring often, 2 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and wine, stirring to scrape browned bits from bottom of saucepan. Add beef stock and 1 cup reserved mushroom soaking liquid. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by one-third, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.

  3. Generously grease a 10 1/2-inch nonstick skillet with butter. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs into skillet, rotating skillet to evenly coat bottom of pan. Tap out excess breadcrumbs, and discard.

  4. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high. Add rice, and cook until very al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain well, and spread rice on a rimmed baking sheet. While rice is still warm, stir in Parmesan cheese and remaining 1/4 cup butter. Press about two-thirds of cooked rice mixture into bottom and up sides of prepared skillet. Spread duck mixture evenly over rice, reserving some of the pan juices for drizzling. Spread remaining rice mixture over duck mixture, and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/3 cup breadcrumbs.

  5. Bake in preheated oven until top is deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven, and let rest 1 minute. Carefully invert onto a plate, and let cool 10 minutes. Cut into 6 equal slices, and serve each slice with a drizzle of reserved pan juices.


While a traditional bomba is dome-shaped, in this version, we’ve opted to shape the dish in a deep nonstick skillet for easier unmolding. Source confit duck legs from your butcher or online retailers such as For a more traditional dome shape, use a 1.5-quart Pyrex glass bowl in lieu of a nonstick skillet. Bake bomba at 425°F for 40 to 50 minutes.

To make ahead

Bomba filling can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in refrigerator.

Suggested pairing

Earthy, substantial Italian red: 2016 Antonelli Sagrantino di Montefalco

Related Articles