Party and Picnic Timpano

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timpano With the Fourth of July right around the corner and the many other celebrations that will be going on this summer, like graduations, family reunions, picnics, birthdays and loads of other get- togethers, I thought I would bring back the idea of making a timpano. What’s a timpano you might ask?

A timpano is a huge round drum or dome of delicious crust that is filled with pasta, meatballs, salami, cheeses and sauce, it is self contained, huge and feeds a crowd, It’s party food to the max and has a ton of WOW factor!

timpano Timpano was made famous by the movie Big Night, staring Stanley Tucci. The timpano, (which is the real star of the movie),was actually his moms recipe. I’ve been making it for special occasions and parties since the first time I saw the movie and bought his cookbook many years ago.

I love this scene in the movie, the first time we saw it, both my kids said “mom you got to make that! ” And I’ve been doing it ever since.

timpano pan The vessel you cook it in is VERY important so as to get the right shape, it looks like a big basin made out of old enamelware. I took a permanent magic marker and wrote my name on the back, this will be a family heirloom that will be past down to my kids with lots of happy memories attached. This is the pan I use.

homemade marinara Since I’ve made it so many times I sort of simplified the sauce, Stanley’s family makes a meaty ragu, I just make my homemade marinara, it’s much lighter and not as heavy, besides there’s so much going on inside with all the other ingredients. The mini meatballs I just make ahead of time and bake them.

timpano ingredients As far as all the ingredients go everything can be prepped ahead of time which is a great time saver for a big party going on. Like I said I make my marinara, cook up my mini meatballs, pre -cook the pasta (very al’dente), cook my eggs and chop up my cheese and salami. Everything gets put into a ziplock bag and ready for assembly.

timpano ingredients Even the dough I make the night before so it’s all prepped and ready, just make sure it’s at room temperature before you start rolling it out.

You see it’s really not that daunting of a recipe to make, don’t let it scare you, it’s fairly simple, a little time consuming with the prep, but then that’s it! The day you put it together will be a breeze and no clean up.

rolling timpano dough For all the years I have been making timpano I can honestly say I have NEVER had any problems with the dough, it always comes out perfect!

rolled out timpano dough Just take your time rolling it so that it drapes way over the pan, you’re going to be filling it with some heavy stuff and you’ll need to be able to close it up with out any of the ingredients showing.

 Fill it to the brim!

timpano Sauce it one last time then wrap it up like a present and bake it.

baked timpano The smells are unbelievable!

cooked timpano But I have to stress a very important step, LET IT REST, a good 45 minutes to an hour, think turkey rest, otherwise you will cut into it and it will be a big saucy mess, you won’t be able to slice it into nice wedges. You know how lasagna is when you try and cut it piping hot? It’s a hot mess, you don’t want that.

I have taken this whole, baked piping hot timpano, wrapped it up in heavy towels and brought it to picnics and family reunions where it would be sitting for 2 hours and it was still hot when I cut into it, just remember if you transport it you need something to cut it on and a good serrated knife. Did I mention it feeds a ton?

cut open timpano This is fun party food, people will be talking about it and craving it for your next gathering. It’s just some basic Italian essentials all wrapped up in a crusty drum of pasta dough where all the flavors meld together in perfect harmony with amazing results!

timpano wedge Try to stash a piece for your self the next day, leftovers are awesome.

slice of timpano

Stanley Tucci’s original timpano recipe is here, but remember I replace his rich ragu with my lighter homemade marinara.

Otherwise follow his directions to the tee I should show you my own personal copy of this recipe, it’s filled with yellow highlighted marks all over.

Study the recipe well, once a good friend of mine made this for a very special occasion, she forgot one important step, covering it with foil, the top burned, she cried…

Go ahead now, make a timpano for your next party or picnic, no need to be intimidated.

Come see what I’m cooking up during the week on Instagram, you can follow me here.

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  1. A veritable monument to Italian cuisine! I’ve toying with the idea of making a timpano ever since we saw Big Night, but you’ve actually done it. Brava!

  2. Oh Marie
    You make it look so easy, but you’re an expert at it. What fun it would be to serve this to a group of friends and then watch the movie. Great tip on letting it rest too.

  3. Matthew Howell says

    One of my favorite recipes. Your original post inspired me to make it and I have done it multiple times since. A favorite of any gathering of my family!

  4. Marie–I, too, have Stanley Tucci’s book and bought the exact pan you have right after I saw the movie. But, for one reason or another, I have yet to make my timpano! Just last week, I had to pull out my timpano pan to get at something behind it; and, once again, thought about making this wonderful dish. You have now given me the inspiration to do so! My husband and I moved back to Massachusetts from St. Charles, IL, to retire on Cape Cod. I always wanted to meet you before we left and am sorry that it didn’t happen because I think we are Italian soul mates.

    • Fran if you ever come back to this area let me know I would love to meet up with you. What a great place to retire, enjoy! P.S. Make the timpano!

  5. OMG!!!! This is such a challenge. I’ve never seen the movie — that will soon be corrected — but I could just see the faces of my kids and grandkids. Heh! heh! heh! We’ve got a family fish fry planned — my Honey’s catch from SSI and I’ve got to make this. Great recipe — thank you for sharing and the inspiration!! Happy Independence Day!

  6. I have this recipe in one of my cookbooks but I can’t remember which one. Now I have a recipe – thank you! It’s gorgeous!

  7. I’ve been wanting to make this but do not have “the pan”. Do you think I could make it in a large stainless bowl with the same shape or a 6 quart heavy Dutch oven?

  8. Doris Hannon says

    Hi Marie, When you take it to a picnic, do you just leave it in the baking container and then flip it/cut it at the event? I want to take to a country picnic in a couple of weeks and need to make sure I understand best way to travel with it. Thank you, will come back and give review afterwards 🙂