March 4, 2020

Timpano “Ala Big Night”

Timpano “Ala Big Night”

Timpano “Ala Big Night”
Adapted from “The Tucci Cookbook” Stanley Tucci
Ok, this is a cool dish but first let me tell you how much I love the movie The Big Night. If you are food lover, you need to see this film.  And I don’t know about you, but I am crazy for Stanley Tucci – he’s an amazing actor and believe it or not, his cookbook is fantastic.

In the movie The Big Night – there is a show-stopper moment when a labor of absolute love, the handmade Timpano is revealed. It’s a stunner.  

It’s been a while since I made this beast, but it is really fun to assemble. Just takes a little planning and holy cow will your guests be amazed!

Here we go let’s break this into parts:

Part One – The Sauce


(you could make this and freeze it, thaw overnight when ready to use)

Tucci Ragu Sauce:
¼ cup olive oil
1-pound stewing beef, trimmed of fat and cut into 2-inch pieces
1-pound pork spareribs (I have also used beef ribs or beef short ribs instead of pork)
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
½ cup dry red wine
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 35-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
3 leaves fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1½ cups water
2 tablespoons garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste

In a LARGE Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add beef in batches so as not to crowd the pan, and sprinkle with a bit of the garlic salt, browning on all sides, and remove to a platter. Repeat as needed to brown all the beef, then repeat with ribs.

Add onions and garlic to oil in pot and cook, stirring about 5 minutes.  Add wine and scrape bottom of pot.  Add tomato paste and water.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.  Add the remaining canned tomatoes, basil and oregano. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook on low about 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Add meat back to the pot of tomato sauce along with any juices that accumulated on the platter.  Bring back to a simmer, cover and cook on low for about 2 hours, adding more water if getting too thick.

Remove meat and serve sauce and meat separately.  To use the sauce for Timpano, remove the meat first.  (Stanley says they eat the meat with salad the night before making Timpano, saving the sauce for the big day).

Part Two – The Meatballs

Use any recipe you love for meatballs but shape them a bit smaller than you probably normally do, bite size.  Cook just as you would for eating, and either store in fridge overnight or, you can make your meatballs, cook, cool and freeze. Thaw overnight to use in your Timpano. Our “three-meat meat balls” are great in this (just make the meat balls don’t worry about the tomato sauce part of that recipe if using in Timpano).

Three-Meat Meatballs (great for pasta or subs)
Makes 28 to 30

1-pound ground pork
1-pound ground chuck
1-pound ground Italian sausage spicy or mild, up to you.
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup loosely packed, fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1½ teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried chile flakes
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup whole milk
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
handful of fresh basil leaves
block of good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano for grating
best-quality olive oil for finishing

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat 2 rimmed baking sheets with olive oil.

In a large bowl, combine the pork, chuck, sausage, breadcrumbs, parsley, 2 teaspoons salt, oregano, fennel seeds and chile flakes and mix with your hands just until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs and milk just enough to break up any large curds of ricotta. Add the ricotta mixture to the ground meat mixture and mix lightly with your hands just until incorporated. The mixture should feel wet and tacky. Pinch off a small piece, flatten it into a disk, and cook it in a small sauté pan. Taste and adjust the mixture’s seasoning with salt, if needed.

Form the mixture into 1½ inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheets. You should have about 30 meatballs.

Brown meat balls in a large skillet in batches being careful not to crowd, so they all brown evenly.

Move browned meatballs to a casserole or baking dish and cover with can of sauce, and a good grading of parmesan cheese and bake, 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and tear basil leaves over for service.  Great on rolls or on pasta. Or just on their own!


Part Three – The Timpano Dough

Ok, this part of the deal needs to happen the day you make the Timpano. You could wrap in saran wrap and let rest for about 2 hours before rolling thin and lining the Timpano pan.

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup water

In a stand mixer, combine 3 cups flour, the eggs, salt and oil and with a dough hook, begin to mix adding remaining cup of flour and then water, 3 tablespoons at a time until the mix comes together to form a ball.

Lightly flour a surface and turn dough out and knead until smooth, and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover with saran wrap and let rest five minutes.

Begin gently rolling dough out, flouring as needed, and resting as needed, until it is about 1/16th of an inch thick and large enough in diameter to fit into your timpano vessel.

Part Four - The Timpano Filling

4 cups genoa salami pieces cut into “sticks” about ¼ by ½ inch
4 cups sharp provolone cut into dice
12 hardboiled eggs, shell off
4 cups prepared meatballs of choice
8 cups Tucci Ragu sauce
3 pounds ziti, cooked for ½ the time listed on the package, rinsed and drained, tossed generously with 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup grated pecorino cheese
6 large eggs, beaten
2 sticks butter, room temperature (for buttering the inside of the Timpano dish)


Part Five - Assemble the Timpano

Using an enamel-ware basin or, a 6-quart, oven proof, enameled casserole, butter the insides liberally with room temperature butter. Now, add the 2 tablespoons olive oil, spreading over the butter.

Fold your dough in half, then in half again which forms a triangle, and set in the pan, then unfold and bring up the sides.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Start layering the Timpano by adding pasta to the bottom of the dish, then salami, provolone, several meat balls and eggs* and ½ of the pecorino, onto the pasta. Add sauce. Repeat. Finish with sauce.  Pour in the beaten eggs and fold edges of dough to cover and seal.  Trim away and discard any double thick areas.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour, cover with foil and continue to bake until it is golden brown, and a thermometer reads 130 (about 30 minutes more).

Remove and let cool for at least 30 minutes.

Shake the pan a bit to see that the Timpano is lose and moving around, if not, use a sharp knife to release it from anywhere it might be sticking.  

Let rest for about 30 minutes then, carefully turn out onto a large cutting board and let rest another 20-30 minutes before slicing and eating! Serve with extra sauce if you like!

*I like to use whole eggs and I set them in lengthwise in a ring – then when we go to slice the timpano we get nice cross-cut pieces of egg.  Stanley cuts his eggs before adding so do what you prefer.

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March 2020