If anybody has come across the beautiful great little film "Big Night" then this post will make a lot of sense. This is a recipe of painstakingly devoted gastronomic perseverance. And how well has the tenacity been portrayed by Primo's character. Infact this dish casued quite a stir in the late 90s following the culinary relish filmed passionately in "Big Night". Mind you, it is a tiring and a terrifying process to make the right Timpano. However the ultimate reward is when you hear orgasmic savoury gasps from all around, after the chef-d'oeuvre has been served.
Presenting the glorious "Timpano de Maccheroni"
10" or 12" springform baking pan, preferably teflon
two sheets puff pastry, either home made or commercial
MEATBALLS: assemble ingredients into one long meat ball or loaf, which makes it easier to slice and fit in the timpano
3/4 lb ground meat, beef, veal, or pork
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 cloves chopped garlic
4 TBSP chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Preparation: mix together, shape into a meatloaf, and bake at 450 for 1/2 hour; slice into 1/4 or 1/2" when cool
SAUSAGE: Use at least two kinds of sausage, such as Italian sausage with fennel, pheasant sausage, etc.; need a total of eight links
Preparation: bake until cooked through at 450 for at least 1/2 hour; slice into 1/4 or 1/2" slices when cool
CHICKEN: 2 whole breasts, cut in half
Preparation: Season with salt, pepper, olive oil, and fresh herbs such as rosemery and sage; brush with olive oil; grill on both sides until done; slice into 1/4 or 1/2" slices when cool.
VEGETABLES: 1 medium eggplant, 2 large red peppers, 1 medium zucchini, 3 medium potatoes, 2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes
Preparation: slice eggplant 1/4", core and flatten the peppers, cut the zucchini 1/4" lengthwise: brush the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and grill.
Blacken peppers and peel skin.
Boil potatoes, let cool, slice into 1/4 ", and season with oil and herbs if desired.
Crush tomatoes, add 3 TBSP olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, fresh parsley and basil to taste. Important: you will not use all the sauce in the timpano, use sparingly!
PASTA: 1 lb cooked pasta, a flat pasta such as farfalle or lasagne works best.
Preparation: Cook to al dente,in plenty of water with 2 TBSP salt; drain, rinse with cool water, dress with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
CHEESE: 1/2 cup grated mozzarella, 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano; cheeses may be substitued with Fontina, Fontinella, parmigiana or other Italian cheeses.
All ingredients should be prepared ahead and at room temperature.
Thaw pastry crust and dust with a little flour.
Butter the inside of the springform pan.
Remove the bottom and cut the dough to fit the round; cut a second round 1/2" larger than the round for the top. Reassemble spring form pan, cover the bottom with cut dough, cut strips of remaining dough to fit side, seal side edges to bottom dough and egg wash the edges.
Arrange the ingredients in layers beginning with the pasta, leaving no spaces in each layer. Spoon a little bit of the sauce and cheese,follow with layer of meatloaf. Use your imagination when layering and vary the layers for color and texture. Make sure to include a layer of pasta half way up to help absorb the liquid and facilitate a firm internal texture. The final layer should be pasta with a little tomato sauce and cheese.
Cover with the remaining round and seal the edges inwards. Do not extend edges beyond rim of pan. Seal the top inside edges so that they do not open when the sides are removed. Cut a vent hole and decorate with leftover scraps of pastry dough.
Brush with eggwash and bake at 400 for about 45 minutes and browned. let stand for at least 30 minutes. Remove the sides, cut in generous slices, and serve the remaining tomato sauce around the timpano.
The word Timpano is actually a regional or family use of the term Timballo in Italian or Timbale in French if you wish to look for other recipes in cookbooks.
Finally this post would be incomplete without the mention of Anthony Bourdain.
He is the "industry of cool" when it comes to travelling cooks. He makes every corner of the world and its food, phenomenal...which actually is! Be it eating a throbbing cobra heart at Thailand or having ox-meat at Baluchistan, snake wine at Vietnam or seal meat in the Tundra! Ok he is not a freak, though an ex-heroin "i am outta it" gringo. However he also has sane food at sane places with suave people around. The best part of his show "No Reservations" is they actually show the host smoking a cigarette!!! He needs it definitely. Specially when the plot is thick and the pan is brimming. ;)