Friday, March 7, 2008

Timpano ~ When Inspiration Becomes Reality...

I wander around the internet quite frequently. Every morning while enjoying my coffee, rather than read the paper or watch television news, I read bits and pieces of news sites online. As my attention span reaches it's max, I begin to wander to food sites looking for something new and delicious to cook and eat. That is how I found Proud Italian Cook and her post about Timpano.

Tom and I saw the movie, Big Night, years ago and afterward I searched the internet for an authentic Timpano recipe. There were lots out there and we did try once to make a Timpano, but for some reason, it didn't really turn out like we had hoped. When I came across this recipe, the photos were so beautiful and the dish looked so delicious, I thought, okay, let's get this one done!

I bought the book, Cucina & Famiglia, on the internet. Then I ordered the 14" basin that Proud Italian Cook recommends. But I ran into a snag! When I received the basin, I realized I didn't have a plate or tray with a diameter wide enough to plate the entire Timpano. Tom and I scoured Conway, Arkansas for a tray. Store after store, no luck: Kohls, Kirklands, TJ Maxx, Pier One, both Walmarts. Nothing wide enough. Everything was too small. By the time we finally stopped at Target, Tom was talking about making a large, cutting-board-type serving tray out of wood. Target saved him the trouble. It's not pretty. It was really cheap ~ $4.99, I think ~ but as you will see by the photo, it worked. So we were ready. Sort of.

We went shopping for the ingredients. We searched through 2 Walmarts and 2 Kroger stores and not one of those stores carried ziti, so I substituted rigatoni. That was an error in judgment. I think the rigatoni was too big, so next time I would use something smaller, like penne. Rather than make my own meatballs, I bought a pound of pre-made mini meatballs. They worked okay, but next time I would make my own in advance. We bought the salami and provolone at the Kroger deli and it was sliced to order. Now we were ready!

Saturday morning I started by making the sauce. I used the recipe in the book, but Tom and I both thought it was rather bland, so I added more herbs: dried oregano, dried basil and a couple of bay leaves. But I think any good basic meat-based tomato sauce would be fine as long as you have the required 8 cups.

When the sauce was ready, we prepared the rest of the ingredients. Tom made the crust and put it in the bowl.

While Tom made the crust, I cut up the rest of the ingredients.

Then we started layering everything in the crust.

It was finally time to top everything off with the final bit of sauce...

and fold the dough over the filling and trim all the excess.

I know it must seem like I am easily amused, but it was so exciting when it came out of the oven and looked so beautiful!

When we cut the Timpano, we could see how much of a difference the rigatoni made to the overall substance of the dish. I think a smaller pasta would have helped hold the mold in place when cut.

We cut two slices out of the Timpano and served it for dinner with a little extra sauce. It was delicious! What did we do with the other 14 servings? We cut the Timpano into slices, put 2 slices in each of 7 vacuum bags, sealed them up and put them in the freezer.

We pulled out one bag this week for dinner. Tom made a spicy Arrabiata Sauce to serve with it(2 tablespoons olive oil; 6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, diced; 2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper flakes; 2 garlic cloves, minced; 5 cups marinara sauce. Heat the oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes. Add the garlic and saute until tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring often).

If you decide to make this, please let me know how it turns out!

Timpano Alla Big Night
(Drum of Ziti and Great Stuff)
Recipe from the book: "Cucina & Famiglia"
by Joan T. Tucci,Gianni Scappin


4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup water


Butter Olive oil


2 cups 1/4 x 1/2-inch Genoa salami pieces
2 cups 1/4 x 1/2-inch sharp provolone cheese cubes
12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, cut in 1/4's lengthwise, then cut in 1/2 to create chunks
2 cups little meatballs
8 cups Ragu Tucci (Meat-Based Tomato Sauce Tucci-Style)recipe follows
3 pounds ziti, cooked very al dente (about half the time recommended on the package) and drained (18 cups cooked)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup finely grated pecorino Romano cheese
4 large eggs, beaten


1. To make the dough, place the flour, eggs, salt, and olive oil in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. (A large capacity food processor may also be used.) Add 3 tablespoons of the water and process. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together and forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead to make sure it is well mixed. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes. (To knead the dough by hand, mix the flour and salt together on a clean, dry work surface or pastry board. Form these dry ingredients into a mound and then make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the center of the well and lightly beat them with a fork. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the water. Use the fork to gradually incorporate some of the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Continue mixing the dry ingredients into the eggs, adding the remaining water 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead the dough with your hands to make a well-mixed, smooth, dry dough. If the dough becomes too sticky, add more flour. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.)

2. Flatten the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour and roll it out, dusting with flour and flipping the dough over from time to time, until it is about 1/16 inch thick and is the desired diameter. Generously grease the timpano baking pan with butter and olive oil. Fold the dough in half and then in half again, to form a triangle, and place it in the pan. Open the dough and arrange it in the pan, gently pressing it against the bottom and the sides, draping the extra dough over the sides. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

3. To prepare the filling, have the salami, provolone, hard-boiled eggs, meatballs, and ragu at room temperature. Toss the drained pasta with the olive oil and 2 cups of the ragu. Distribute 6 generous cups of the pasta on the bottom of the timpano. Top with 1 cup of the salami, 1 cup of the provolone, 6 of the hard-boiled eggs, 1 cup of the meatballs, and 1/3 cup of the Romano cheese. Pour 2 cups of the ragu over these ingredients. Top with 6 cups of the remaining pasta. Top that with the remaining 1 cup salami, 1 cup provolone, 6 hard-boiled eggs, 1 cup meatballs, and 1/3 cup Romano cheese. Pour 2 cups of the ragu of over these ingredients. top with the remaining 2 cups ragu over the pasta. Pour the beaten eggs over the filling. Fold the pasta dough over the filling to seal completely. Trim away and discard any double layers of dough.

4. Bake until lightly browned, about 1 hour. Then cover with aluminum foil and continue baking until the timpano is cooked through and the dough is golden brown (and reaches an internal temperature of 120 degrees F), about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 30 or more minutes. The baked timpano should not adhere to the pan. If any part is still attached, carefully detach with a knife. Grasp the baking pan firmly and invert the timpano onto a serving platter. Remove the pan and allow the timpano to cool for 20 minutes. Using a long, sharp knife, cut a circle about 3 inches in diameter in the center of the timpano, making sure to cut all the way through to the bottom. Then slice the timpano as you would a pie into individual portions, leaving the center circle as a support for the remaining pieces.

Ragu Tucci
(Meat-Based Tomato Sauce Tucci-Style)
Recipe from: Cucina & Famiglia
by Joan T. Tucci,Gianni Scappin

1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound stewing beef, trimmed of fat, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into pieces
1 pound country-style spareribs, trimmed of fat, cut in half, rinsed, and patted dry
1 cup roughly chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
One 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups warm water
8 cups canned whole plum tomatoes (about two 35-ounce cans), passed through a food mill or pureed in the blender
3 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried

1. Warm the olive oil in a stew pot set over medium-high heat, sear the stewing beef until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside in a bowl. Add the spareribs to the pot and sear until they are brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the ribs and set aside in the bowl with the stewing beef. (If your pot is big enough to hold all of the meat in a single layer, it may be cooked at the same time.)
2. Stir the onions and garlic into the pot. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the onions begin to soften and lose their shape, about 5 minutes. Stir in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pot clean. Add the tomato paste. Pour 1/2 cup of the warm water into the can to loosen any residual paste and then pour the water into the pot. Cook to warm the paste through, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes along with the remaining 1 cup warm water. Stir in the basil and oregano. Cover with the lid slightly askew and simmer to sweeten the tomatoes, about 30 minutes. Return the meat to the pot, along with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. Cover with the lid slightly askew and simmer, stirring frequently, until the meat is very tender and the tomatoes are cooked, about 2 hours. Warm water may be added to the sauce, in 1/2-cup portions, if the sauce becomes too thick. (If you have made meatballs, they may be added during the last half hour of cooking. The meatballs will soften and absorb some of the sauce.)

NOTE: When preparing ragu for timpano only the sauce is used and the meat is served as a separate course. The sauce for timpano should be thin, so measure out 7 1/2 cups of prepared sauce and stir in 1/2 cup water before proceeding with the timpano recipe.

VARIATION: Sweet Italian sausage may be added to this sauce. Sauté it after the spareribs and then proceed with the recipe as written


Proud Italian Cook said...

Terri, Wow, You did a beautiful job! The dough and everything looks perfect!It came out of the pan gorgeous looking!! Thank you for yor kind words, I'm thrilled that you got inspired to make Timpano from looking at my post. I love the fact that you vacumm sealed it, good idea, otherwise you would have to invite your whole neighborhood to help you eat it, lol. That was also good that you mentioned what to place it on, once you take it out of the pan. I had a problem with that too. I ended up buying a round wooden cutting board at Homegoods, its like a TJMaxx. Thanks again Terri, you made my day!!

test it comm said...

That Timpano lookas really good! I have never had a Timpano but it looks tasty.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I'd never heard of timpano--that looks awesome! Two of my favorite things (pie + pasta) all in one! I'll have to try this one of these days...

Cindy said...

Stumbled upon your blog last night after a Big Night - Dinner and a Movie event where we live. At first, all Internet searches led me to blogs with versions that looked nothing like the movie. What a treat to find yours - thanks for posting all your hard work - it looks delicious!

Irina said...

wow, what a feast. I have never seen something like this before. looks really good

Unknown said...

Question... if you're making the Ragu for the Timpano are you supposed to not use the meat at all? Strain it from the sauce? I'm confused :-(

Terri said...

Hi Jeffrey. Thanks for stopping by. To answer your question, yes, you are supposed to separate the meat from the sauce. However, I've done it both ways. The first time I made the Timpano, I just picked the meat out with tongs, vacuumed sealed and froze it for another dinner. When I served the meat, I made a small pan of sauce to go with it over pasta.

The second time I made Timpano, I picked the meat out, shred it into small pieces and put it back in the sauce. I liked both ways.

Christia said...

Just came across this from Pinterest. In my father's region of Italy (small section of Abruzzi), this is made using layers of a crepe-like "pasta" called scripelle. There is no dough on the outside. It's sort of a cross between your recipe and a lasagna.

Terri said...

Hi Chritia: It's interesting that you would mention scripelle. A couple of months back, I came across a recipe and saved it. I'll have to try it as you suggest. It sounds wonderful. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and share your tip.

Rosemary said...

I'm confused about the butter and oil for the pan. Do you mix them together or one at a time. I'm getting ready to make this. Thank you.

Patricia said...

My timpano was a huge success. I am trying to figure out how to send you a few photos. My only complaint was that the butter/oil that was used to grease the pan somehow bubbled up a little and caused a great deal of smoke. I was worried that the bottom of the timpano would burn but luckily it didn't and looked beautiful. I couldn't have done it without all your detailed instructions. Thank you!

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