Timpano Recipe – Step by Step to a Big Night

by tipsy on December 12, 2012


(This was originally posted on: Jul 20, 2007)

Every year on or about the last day of the year, I have an event I call the
"Big Night" (after the movie of the same name). My wife and I gather six to eight of our closest friends and have a literal feast. Many have seen timpano in the movie, or they have read the book. Unfortunately, the recipe is no where in the book. As you prepare this meal it's very important to have a glass and an open bottle of red wine on hand. timpano

Timpano is kind of a giant meal in a crust. It contains pasta and tomato sauce, meat(s), cheese, hard-boiled eggs, all layered and baked into a thin pie crust. I use an old enamel wash pan like they did on the movie. You can find one on eBay, and that's about the only place. Mine measures 4 inches tall, by 13 inches in diameter at the rim. As you can see it tapers toward the bottom, but if you get close, it'll do fine.

I've made Timpano for the past several years based on a combination of recipes from the internet and I believe I've come up with a great standard recipe. You can alter it a bit if you'd like, but it will work the way I describe it here. I've also included photos of the entire process, enjoy!

TipsyCook's Timpano Recipe

For the timpano dough:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup water

For the meatballs (for filling below):

  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground veal
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (unseasoned)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic (or 2 cloves minced)
  • 6-8 Tablespoons parsely finely-chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

For the timpano filling:

  • 2 cups Genoa salami, cut in 1/4-inch by 1/2-inch pieces - (NOTE: This meat can be substituted with cubed cooked hot Italian sausage)
  • 2 cups sharp Provolone cheese, cut into 1/4 by 1/2-inch pieces
  • 12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 2 cups of golfball-size meatballs (recipe above)
  • 8 cups of fresh or prepared meat-based, tomato sauce
  • 2 lbs. penne pasta, cooked very al dente (about half the time recommended on the package) and drained - NOTE: You will likely have some pasta left 0ver, don't stress over it.
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup finely grated Pecorino-Romano cheese - (Or just Parmigiano if that's all you can find)
  • 5 large eggs, beaten

Getting everything ready

timpano13.JPGFirst, make sure you have everything. It sounds obvious, but just do it, have a little wine while you make sure.

Preparing all the filling is the most work. Get everything cut, meatballs made, and pasta cooked. Then put them all in their respective containers while you make the dough. Once the dough is rolled-out, you need to have everything ready to go in the pan or the dough will dry out and crack and tear. Which is irritating.

Make the meatballs

Mix the ground beef, ground veal, eggs, and bread crumbs together, then mix in the garlic, parsley, and Parmigiano. Season with a little salt and pepper.

Roll the mixture into golfball size balls. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom to about 1/4-inch. Add the meatballs and saute, rolling them around so they're cooked all-around. Keep the heat low enough so you don't get spattered. When they have a nice crust they're done. They'll look pretty toasted, but you should be able to spare one to see if it's done and how it tastes.

Remove and drain the meatballs on paper towels.

Have some wine.

Make some dough

I'm assuming you've done as I said and prepared all the stuff for the filling. If you did not, you'll be sorry when your dough is done. I'm not kidding, you should have every filling ingredient ready in it's own little bowl all around you like you're the next FoodNetwork star or something.

To make the dough, place the four, 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 on a lightly-floured work surface and knead to make sure it's well-mixed.

Set it aside to rest for 5 minutes. Have a little wine while you wait...and get ready for a workout. (Seriously)

NOTE: This sounds easy, but it is a tremendous amount of work to get the dough rolled into a very large thin sheet.
Flatten the dough out on a lightly-floured work surface. I use a large wash towel made from light flour sack material. Then sprinkle it with flour and roll it from the center to the edges. It keeps springing back, so you really have to keep working it till it's about 1/16-inch thick. (See photos 1-3)
timpano01.JPG timpano02.JPG timpano03.JPG
Generously grease your pan with butter and olive oil. Fold the dough in half, then in half again so you have a triangle-shape. Place the corner of the dough into the bottom center of the pan and unfold it. With the back of your hand start gently pressing the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan, draping the extra dough over the sides.

timpano04.JPG timpano05.JPG timpano06.JPG timpano07.JPG timpano08.JPG timpano09.JPG

timpano10.JPGPre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

If you cannot fill the pan right away, you can keep the dough moist by laying a large moist towel over the whole thing.

Filling the timpano

timpano14.JPG timpano15.JPGAll your ingredients should be at room temperature. Toss the drained pasta with the olive oil and 2 cups of the sauce. Distribute a layer of the pasta in the bottom (this will be the top when you're done) of the pan - approximately 3 cups. This layer should be about an inch deep.

NOTE: If you make the layers too deep, you run the risk of running out of room. Everything needs to fit in the pan without "heeping" the ingredients, you're going to be flipping this over and you want it to sit flat on a platter.

Top the first layer of pasta with 1 cup of the salami (or sausage), 1 cup of Provolone, 6 of the hard-boiled eggs, 1 cup meatballs, and 1/3 cup of the Romano cheese. Pour 1/3 of the beaten eggs over this (they help bind everything together) and then 2 cups of the sauce over these ingredients.

timpano16.JPG timpano17.JPG timpano18.JPG timpano19.JPG timpano20.JPG timpano21.JPG

Top with another layer of the pasta - about 3 cups or so. Top that with the remaining salami (or sausage), 1 cup Provolone, 6 hard-boiled eggs, remaining meatballs, and 1/3 cup Romano cheese. Pour 2 cups of the sauce over these ingredients. Top these ingredients with a final layer of pasta. You should be right about even with the edge of the pan, spoon about 2 more cups of sauce over all of this. Pour the remaining egg mixture over these ingredients.

timpano22.JPG timpano23.JPG timpano24.JPG

If it's sticking up a bit, you can gently use your spread hands to press the whole mess into the pan. I also shake the pan to settle the ingredients as I go. You want a nice firm mass once you're done.

Fold the pasta dough over the filling to seal completely. Trim away and discard any double layers of dough.

Baking the timpano

Bake in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned, about 1 hour. Then cover it with aluminum foil and continue baking until the timpano is cooked through and the dough is golden brown about 45 minutes. It should reach an internal temperature of 120 degrees. Remove from the oven and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. Have an appropriate platter ready, set it upside-down over the timpano, grab the timpano and platter together and flip it over. (Do not take the pan off yet, let it rest like this for 30 minutes.)
This is a good time to drink with your friends.

Let it rest

This resting is really important for two reasons.

One, as it cools it pulls away slightly from the pan. You've got a lot of surface area in contact with this pan, so you have to be really careful when getting the timpano to release once you flip it over. I've never lost one, but imagine the disappointment.

Second, this thing has a lot of hot liquid inside it. Melted cheese, pasta sauce, etc. Hopefully the beaten eggs have set and as the other ingredients rest they set up just a bit more too. So take your time, and have some more wine.

After 30 minutes with the pan on it, very gently remove the pan and let it cool another 20 minutes. This is a nice time to garnish it and make it pretty.

timpano26.JPGUsing a long-sharp knife, cut a circle about 3 inches in diameter in the center of the timpano. Make sure to cut all the way to the bottom. Then slice the timpano like a pie into individual portions, leaving the center circle as a support for the remaining pieces.

Enjoy with some more wine!



{ 117 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Reiter July 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Wow! I love that I found this recipe! Thanks for sharing your experience with it. I LOVED the movie, and would love to have a Big Night dinner party.


Sandy June 20, 2014 at 1:40 am

This is a wonderful blog!! Wondering if you could not use the hard boiled eggs?


Gwen March 29, 2014 at 7:30 am

Tipsy, I had never seen Big Night until last fall. I asked my husband to get me a timpano-worthy washtub for Christmas, and I made my first timpano yesterday afternoon and served 12 last night. I used the improved crust recipe and followed your instructions religiously. The result was just beautiful. My friends were amazed, and we all had a very big night indeed. Thank you so much!


Hilary November 7, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Where is the updated pastry recipe with butter referred to in comments?
Want to make this!!!


tipsy November 7, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Hi Hilary, You can find the improved crust recipe here: http://www.tipsycook.com/timpano-crust-recipe-an-improvement/


Laurie September 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm

amazon.com sells a timpano bowl:


Comes in several colors.

Going to watch the movie tonight with my daughter and order my pan!


K April 7, 2013 at 6:21 pm

We are planning a Big Night party. Tipsy, we wish you and your wife could join us! What kind of pan should we use – did I miss this part? I have been drinking wine in preparation….


tipsy April 7, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Yep you’re wine has caused you to miss the link. It’s in the post where it says ” find one on eBay.” Let us know where to show up, if we’re in town we’d love to come.


Judy March 8, 2013 at 8:09 am

Would love to make this with all veggies, any hints which ones would hold up best? Please give me the procedures for this type of Timpano. Also want to use a spring form pan & purchase my dough. Thanks


Michael Frajerman March 7, 2013 at 9:09 am

I noticed that you let it rest 3 times: 30 minutes, 30 minutes, then 20 minutes. Is it still hot after all that time or is served at room temperature?


tipsy March 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Hi Michael, Sorry for the confusion. It rests for 30 min. in the pan after baking, then (after removing the pan) let it cool for 20 min. more. It should still be plenty hot. The reason for all of that resting is it needs to “set up.” Otherwise, when you cut into it, the contents will pour out on your platter.


Jo ann toffanello February 15, 2013 at 1:59 pm

I have made timpano using phyllo pastry and it has worked out very well. I use my big pampered chef some wear bowl if I have company or if I am just making a small one I use the small pampered chef stone wear. Works out good. I have also used a spring form pan.


Charlie January 28, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Hey Tipsy! My wife and I have been making a Timpano every New Years since 2007. We’ve made a couple of Traditional Timpanos, a Mexican timpano (ingredients included a tamale layer, a chili-con-carne layer, chorizo, fajita, etc), a healthy Timpano, a Chili-Timpano (it was just layers of dense chili, cornbread, and cheese), a Dessert Timpano (layers of Icecream, Cookies, dulce de leche in a pre-baked puff-pastry timpano-shell), and this year, though we’re a little late, we’re making a Vegetarian/Traditional (using soy meatballs and soy Italian Sausage). We are, however going to follow your recipe/process – Thanks for posting it!


Pia January 17, 2013 at 1:34 pm

…and by “slough off”, I mean after you have cut about half the slices off of the beast.


tipsy January 17, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Yes that cylinder was to help the last pieces stand after the first few were served. After doing this for a few more years, I’ve eliminated this step. Off you let it rest, it will set up enough that it holds together without the cylinder.


Pia January 17, 2013 at 10:36 am

I am confused about the 3″ diameter cut in the middle. Do you basically cut a 3″ wide cylinder down the middle? It strikes me that the cylinder would slough off.


julia aaronson January 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Re: dough your instructions call for olive oil, but in the ingredients the amount of oil is not mentioned. I am very anxious to creat this dish! I loved the movie and have tried for sometime to get a recipe, therefore I am very excited to make this Thanks Julia


Doug December 26, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Thank you for your wonderful (and entertaining) post with superb, detailed instructions… I am a fan of the movie “The Big Night” and contemplated an making a timpano for a number of years. I even purchased the needed pan more than a year ago. I finally took the ‘plunge’ yesterday and made my first timpano (a few minor modifications to the recipe were made). I used the ‘updated’ butter dough per your recommendation–a wonderful pastry dough (added egg yolks give the dough significant strength/pliability, remaining flaky after baking due to the butter). It was a stunning success…… with all of us taking photos of the finished product. We are all still stuffed the day after!!! This will definitely become a Christmas tradition at our house. Many, many thanks!!!


tipsy December 26, 2012 at 6:26 pm

That’s awesome Doug. Thanks for the report!


Steph Trowbridge December 25, 2012 at 6:40 am

We did it!!!! Thank you so much for the recipe!


Laurie December 12, 2012 at 10:19 am

thanks so much for this. Also a h-u-g-e fan of the film. This is the year I finally make it. But, wasn’t there a seafood layer in the film version, too? I could be remembering wrong (time to watch again).


tipsy December 12, 2012 at 11:21 am

Hi Laurie, No seafood layer – however there was a fish course during the dinner. That recipe (and others) are included in the book “Big Night.”


Laurie December 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm

ahhhh. I wonder what a layer of ziti with shrimp and scallops in a bechamel would be like…


tsm December 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Oh my! Thank you so much for this!! I have been wanting to make this (actually, eat this!) ever since I saw this movie years ago! Maybe New Years Eve with some good pals! Can’t wait!


Ralph Pierro November 23, 2012 at 11:53 am

After studying a number of timpano recipes I chose yours to use for my Christmas buffet centerpiece. I plan to first make one up this week to establish the procedure. I enjoyed the manner in which you formated the recipe and all necessary details. I’ll let you know after the first of January how everything turned out. Thank you!!!


tipsy November 23, 2012 at 11:05 pm

I’m flattered Ralph. Please be sure and let me know. I’d suggest using the updated crust recipe for best results.


Ed Italo November 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm


I’ve been making Timpano since first seeing the Big Night. I’ve made a few changes over the years that I thought I’d share with you. I substitute prosciutto di parma for salami, I include a layer of ricotta in the middle, like in a lasagna and I make that middle layer of pasta Alfredo. I also use both meat balls and Sicilian Sausage. I also buy my raw pizza dough from our neighborhood pizzaria, who makes a better dough than I can and it cuts out the work. Any way you do it this is a great dish that will make your guests feel very special.


tipsy November 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Thanks Ed. That middle layer sounds interesting. I think I’ll try that this year.


Richard Iadevaia October 24, 2012 at 7:08 am

I made my Timpano in a spring pan and it came out wonderful,the appearance was that of a hugh pie, free standing! In my family, who migrated to the U.S. from southern Italy two generations ago this was a treat that my Nonni would prepare through out the year for special occassions. She would also make this when the family would spend a day at the beach. She would make it a wrap in in a table cloth, and unwrap it when iot was time to feast, it would remain nice and warm. Other surrounding families would look on wondering what to make of this enormous pie! It was great fun!! Thank you Nonni for your love and the memories.


tipsy October 28, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Thanks Richard for an awesome story. I have never considered taking one to the beach, that’s great!


carole February 27, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I plan to make mine in a spring-form pan too but am wondering about the amount of ingredients. Would half of them do the trick? A beach pic-nic would be an ideal occasion for this impressive dish. Can’t wait for summer. Thank you everyone for your comments. Most helpful.


tipsy February 27, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Carole, I’m not sure of the size of your spring-form pan. However, once you have the respective layers in the pan, you can use anything that’s left for another timpano!


carole February 28, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Thanks for replying. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Keep up the good work.


Bill Hagy September 1, 2012 at 8:26 am

Many thanks for the detailed process. I’m planning on surprising my brother with this unbelievable feast. My family is Southern Italian and I intend on making sure all the wonderful flavors we grew up with are encased within the timpano crust.


Tomm April 21, 2012 at 8:44 pm

I’ve made the timpano a couple of times. After the timpano has been sliced, serve on the plate with stripes of Basil Pesto, Alfredo and Vodka sauces on top of the slice to represent the Italian flag.


Joe April 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm

We’re making two timpanos for Easter. I s it possible to assemble, bake halfway on Saturday and heat on Sunday? Or would I be better off assembling on Saturday, refrigerate over night, let it come to room temperature on Sunday and then cook? Easter Sunday is pretty hectic around here, what with ham and lamb also needing oven time.



tipsy April 8, 2012 at 9:26 am

My biggest concern would be the sauce soaking through the crust. If I had to make a choice, I’d choose the half-baked version, because I think it would give the crust (texture and appearance) the best chance.

Either way, I think it would still taste great.


Joe Mama October 28, 2012 at 9:56 am

Would it be a crime against the Italian culture to cook it all the way one day the reheat the next day, if you’re bringing it to a party or something?


tipsy October 28, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Not a crime in my book. It reheats well. The only thing that might suffer a little is the crust. It might not be as light or flakey as it is fresh out of the oven.


Mike March 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm

How do you keep it from getting cold since it is resting for an hour and twenty minutes?


tipsy March 25, 2012 at 12:57 am

Hi Mike, I could be missing something but I think it’s 50 minutes total resting. 30 with the pan on and about 20 with the pan off. It’s still a good question.

I guess it’s because it’s dense, and once it’s up to temperature, it holds the heat pretty well. Just keep checking it with your hands. If it feels like it’s cooling down go ahead and serve it.


Barbara February 20, 2012 at 7:20 am

Wow! Thanks for a fabulous recipe & the detailed directions for making it correctly! I just recently saw “Big Night” & loved it! Reading the comments here has been great fun, too! Enjoy!


Chuck January 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm

The baking instructions state to cook until the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees. From a food safety stand point, the internal temperature should reach 165 degrees and hold that temperature for a minimum of 15 seconds when a thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the Timpano .


Big Al December 29, 2011 at 9:44 am


What did you put in your veggie timpani and how did you layer it? Trying to figure out how to convert this so our veggie friends can partake in our party.


Kick December 20, 2011 at 4:33 am

This Christmas is going to be our Big Night since we’re ging to try our hand at your Timpano recipe. How many people would you say your recipe feeds?
Fingers crossed, we’ll let you know how it turned out.


tipsy December 22, 2011 at 11:04 am

Kick, last year we fed a party of 12 with this recipe. Of course the size of your pan may vary, but in our case, no one went away hungry!


Kick December 29, 2011 at 6:45 am

We made it for 15 and still no one was hungry. The amendment to the dough (butter) made it harder to handle but all the more delicious. I think we found ourselves a Christmas tradition!


Kick December 29, 2011 at 6:53 am

p.s. I would love to send you a photo of the timpano and the baby veggie timpani around it but I can’t figure out how


Dina January 18, 2012 at 3:22 am

Superb inrfmoation here, ol’e chap; keep burning the midnight oil.

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