Celebrating with Timpano!

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timpano It’s Timpano time again! If you’re a regular reader of my blog you know I previously featured Timpano a few times already in the course of my almost seven years here on Proud Italian Cook. I can’t help it, it’s such a celebratory meal, like making homemade ravioli.

I don’t make it that often but when I do it’s for a celebration or special occasion.

Many years ago I watched the movie Big Night, which by the way I think is one of the best “foodie” movies ever made, two brothers own a restaurant that’s not doing so well so they try and impress there guests by making a Timpano.

Stanley Tucci is in the movie and the actual Timpano recipe comes from his own personal family. To me the highlight of the movie was the  Timpano scene. It will be forever embedded in my mind,  here’s a You Tube clip, and the minute I saw it I knew I would be making this spectacular meal.

Making a timpano is a big event but it actually consists of very common ingredients, nothing much out of the ordinary, but the presentation is extraordinary and definitely celebration worthy!

ingredients for making timpano When making Timpano you’ll find that it’s all about using the correct pan which so happens to be  made of enamelware, you have to have the right size and shaped pan to hold three pounds of pasta, provolone, eggs, mini meatballs, Genoa salami, sauce and grated cheese and it has to be deep enough so you can make several layers before it gets nicely wrapped into the dough and when you finely un-mold it, there’s a nice dome like shape to it, here’s what I use.  This recipe feeds at least 16 people!

I’m not going to kid you, it’s a labor of love, but isn’t that what we all do for special occasions, we go all out.  What I really like about making Timpano is that everything can be prepped way ahead of time. I make all my sauce and mini meatballs a week before and stick them in the freezer until the day before, then a couple of days before the party I boil and peel my hard boiled eggs, dice up the provolone and Genoa salami, and make sure I have plenty of romano cheese grated.

Over the years I’ve adapted the recipe a little, I don’t make the heavy ragu that the original recipe calls for, I personally don’t think you need it, there’s so much meat that goes into the layers anyway, to me a nice light marinara made with olive oil, fresh basil, garlic and good San Marzano tomatoes is just right, of course I always make plenty of extra sauce because you’ll want to spoon some on each piece.

The recipe gives you the exact amounts of cheese, salami and meatballs you should use but I always throw in extra, the only thing I do exact is the hardboiled egg amount.  I will post the link to the original recipe at the end of this post.

rolled out timpano dough I can’t tell you how much I love this dough, it comes out perfect every time. I make it the night before, wrap it good in plastic wrap then refrigerate it, just bring it to room temperature before you start to roll it.  Be patient when rolling, let it rest, then roll, it needs to be thin, you should be able to see the counter coming through the dough.

rolled out timpano dough The dough circle needs to be big enough to drape the bowl like in the photo above because once you start adding all the ingredients the sides will rise up a bit, plus you need enough to be able to cover and wrap all the ingredients inside.

steps in making timpano Then all the layering begins! See the bottom picture of the pan? look at the edge, you can see the pan design coming through, that’s how thin your dough has to be otherwise your Timpano will be too heavy and crusty and you don’t want that!

making timpano Layered up to the top, almost done with the filling!

topping off the timpano Add the last layer of sauce and a drizzle of beaten eggs all over the top to seal everything in.

wrapped timpano ready for the oven Wrap it, trim it, and stick it in the oven!

My advice is to read, read, read the recipe, I even printed it out and highlighted the important steps so I wouldn’t forget, at one point you have to take it out of the oven and put foil over the top and then back in, if you forget this step with the foil it can ruin the whole thing, my poor friend did that once, so please use a timer and pay attention when it dings.

finished baking timpano Every oven is different but the Timpano should be golden brown with an internal temperature of 120 degrees.

Timpano When you un-mold it you can’t just cut into it, a very important step is to let it rest, I repeat, let it rest! If you don’t you’ll have a gloppy mess, and that would be so sad after all that work. Go pour some drinks and mingle with your guests, give it about an hour, believe me it will still be hot.

cut open timpano Then you’ll be able to cut it into sharp clean wedges for everyone, see how nice and thin that dough is?

grilled vegetable platter You might wonder what to serve with Timpano, well since it’s summertime I decided to make a platter of grilled veggies and a nice big Italian salad, that’s it, that’s all you’ll need, trust me.

plated timpano slice Cut your wedges which are nicely held together and spoon warm marinara on top, you’re ready to dig in!

a wedge of timpano If you’re lucky enough there might be a piece leftover for the next day…

celebrating with timpano We had a lot to celebrate, with a ton of hard work and endurance my daughter received her yoga teacher training certificate, it was also my sons birthday, and my niece and a good family friend just completed a triathlon. We’re very proud of them all, they work extremely hard but they sure know how to party!

Here is a link to the original recipe, within that recipe you’ll find another link to the Family Tucci ragu.


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  1. . Your timpano is a masterpiece! What a nice way to fed a crowd. Your grilled veggies also look perfect! Congratulations to your daughter and other family members on their accomplishments.

    PS: “Big Night” is also one of our favorite movies, Marie! In fact we own it on DVD It’s a little dark and quirky, but also so true to the era. I almost feel the same as Primo when people tell me they love a certain chain restaurant’s (OG) Italian food–lol!

  2. Oh that looks amazing! I could cry it looks so good! 🙂

  3. Bravo….what a beautiful post and presentation!!

  4. Brava!! A wonderful feast for a beautiful family.

  5. Oh my! This looks scrumptious! Have you ever tried to make just half the recipe? Would love to try this, but perhaps on a smaller scale to start with! Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. I admire you for tackling such an involved recipe and wish I could have been one of your guests to taste the Timpano. Wanted to eat this ever since I saw the movie many years ago!

  7. How wonderful to see your Timpano. I’m of Sicilian descent and when I saw the movie “Big Night”, that’s what inspired me too to make it. I laughed when I saw what you used for a pan because that’s exactly what I use. I could never find a Timpano pan that Stanley Tucci referred to in their cookbook.

    When I make my Timpano I take some of the dough and cut out a circle to put in the bottom of the pan prior to putting in the big amount of dough…it matches the indentation of my pan, and then I do the initial of the person being honored. Like you, I use my grandmother’s suga…which is lighter like yours. I think the biggest surprise for me was after leaving it to sit for an hour was how hot it still was when serving.

    Your Timpano is beautiful and I share your love of making this wonderful dish. It always ends up being the star of the evening. Thanks for sharing yours.

  8. Tim Ferrier says

    Marie: I love that movie too. It’s a real masterpiece. I had forgotten the Timpano until I read your post this week. I believe that Stanley Tucci’s heritage is from Calabria which is where my grandfather was born. Thanks for sharing with us.

  9. Oh Marie – your timpano takes my breath away. I wish I were part of that happy crew eating and celebrating. Your directions and photos are very explanatory, if I should ever have the courage to make one.

  10. What a fabulous dish to celebrate life’s triumphs with family. Your Timpano is absolutely gorgeous. I think it’s fun to have dishes like this for special occasions. To make it makes them even more precious.

    Have a great weekend Marie,

  11. The Graphic Foodie says

    Wow! I LOVE that film. Inspired me to make one too but where we’re from in Italy it’s called tiballo and the outside is aubergene not pastry. Wen’t dwn a storm with my British friends.


  12. That’s a real show stopper, Marie. My son in law has mentioned timpano and I know I would impress the sox off him if I made one. It would be a fun project and I’ll have to wait until I have a good sized group coming for a special occasion.

  13. “This is so *&%ing good I should kill you!”

    Marie, your blog is so beautifully done that I’m inspired to have a dinner party; thank you. The bad thing: my tiny apartment can’t hold enough people to feed this to.

    “Bite your teeth into the ass of life.”

  14. Marie; I am going to try this next week for my 4th of July family reunion. Ordered the pan you recommended and it came yesterday! I will let you know how it goes. Thanks for a great column. My family came from Calabria so I am loving all these wonderful recipes.

  15. I’m so impressed, Marie! Never made or tasted timpano, believe it or not, it wasn’t a ‘thing’ in my family. But it looks absolutely amazing. Being ever the traditionalist, I’d probably stick with the ragù (and just to try the original recipe) but I agree it’s probably not necessary given how rich the filling is otherwise.

  16. Oh Marie, this is EXACTLY what we enjoyed in Rome during our trip in May and I’ve yet to discover (until now) the recipe for a timpani! Thank you so much! They are so beautiful to look at prior to plopping in one’s mouth!

  17. eccezionale!!!! Grande ricetta, grande il film che ricordo con piacere…e grandissimo il tuo timpano!!!

  18. I just found your page via Pinterest and I wanted to share with you that I have been infatuated with the Timpano ever since I saw the movie Big Night so many years ago. I watched the movie and have bought at least 3 Italian cookbooks since because of that recipe. I still have never had the courage to try it, but I am inspired by your page. I’m not Italian by genetics, but I embrace the cooking and the customs.

    • I would encourage you to go for it Kristi, just follow the instructions exactly and it will turn out perfect!

  19. Marie – I must admit, that since I’ve read this post, I’ve drooled over it for months. After a detailed internet search, I’ve found that Dutch Ovens (which I do have) can work in place of the Timpano pan. I must ask (though I seriously doubt), have you ever tried baking this in a Dutch Oven, or, do you know anyone who has with success? I’ve read multiple posts that do, but as a dedicated follower of your blog, I wanted to as your opinion 🙂 Please and thanks!

  20. Your timpano is a work of art. I’m going to attempt to make one. Is it possible to use a stainless steel bowl? Otherwise I will be in search of an enamel bowl.

    • Thank You Anna, If I were you I would get the enamel bowl that was recommended in the book, I think I have an Amazon link in my post, it’s not that expensive and I promise it will become a family heirloom, because your family will want you to make it over and over on special occasions.

  21. Hello Marie, I just found your recipe for Timpano and cannot wait to make it! I married an Italian man and I can’t wait to knock his socks off with this incredible recipe. Can you please tell me what size enamel bowl to buy to accommodate the ingredients in this recipe? My family, although not Italian, does get together for Sunday dinner from time to time and this would be perfect to serve them. What a presentation this will make at our dinner table! Thank you!

    • Teresa, I have a link to the exact bowl I use in my Amazon store on my blog, it’s the best presentation ever, please let me know how it turns out! Have fun!