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!



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