Party and Picnic Timpano

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.


Celebrating with Timpano!

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.



Cooking Demo ala Timpano

For the past week I’ve had a knock down dragged out viral infection that kept me from cooking in the kitchen or anything else. I’m happy to say I feel so much better now, and after living on soup for a week I’m excited to eat something different.

I’ll be back in my kitchen tomarrow, but for now I wanted to leave you with a visual of a cooking class/demo I did for the Italian/ American club that I’m a member of. I demonstrated making a Timpano like the original one from the movie “Big Night” with Stanley Tucci.

If you’re not familiar with a Timpano or never heard of it before, it’s a drum of pasta, 3 pounds to be exact, homemade mini meatballs, sauce, provolone and romano cheese, hard boiled eggs and salami that’s all incased in a pasta dough and baked in a very special pan. Perfect for large crowds and big parties. We had 23 people in attendence and each had a generous slice for tasting, many came back for seconds. When I first started my blog in 2007 I did a whole post on it which goes into a little more detail. Click here to view.

See you soon!


T I M P A N O !

If you’re a Foodie and you haven’t seen the movie “Big Night” I would highly recommend you watch it. It’s the story of two brothers from Italy who come to America and open up a restaurant, unfortunately they aren’t making much money at it and they become almost bankrupt, so they decide to risk everything they own for one “Big Night” that will either make or break them.
The brother’s, one who is a superb cook, and the other who handles the business side, decide to make all these elaborate dishes  along with the promise of singer Louie Prima for the entertainment, all this in hopes to lure people into their restaurant. Anyway, when the “Big Night” finally comes the chef prepares his famous “Timpano”.Stanley Tucci is the star in the movie, but to me the star is the “Timpano!” ( sorry Stanley).

Timpano ( as it is said in Calabrian dialect) ____or Timballo___ has been a tradition in the Tucci family for years, in fact, it was his Grandmother who brought this tradition over from Calabria, Italy and to this day his family still makes it. But after the Huge reaction of the “Timpano” that they recieved from the movie, He, along with his family wrote a cookbook, it’s called, Cucina & Famiglia. In that book is the famous Timpano recipe.

Needless to say, the book was bought, and I was hooked!. My family was also hooked!, and was just as excited as I was for me to make this! That was several years ago, and although I don’t make it for every X-mas, this year I did. But believe me, it is great for any party, picnic, or special occasion you might have. It feeds over 16 people, and it definitely has the” WOW” factor!

The most important thing is the pan! It’s all about the pan! You can’t just use any pan, they specify that in the book, I actually ordered mine a long time ago but I updated the source for you. Here is the updated link. It’s a 14″ Basin with a 6 quart capacity, this is the size that fits the recipe in the book.
The enamel pan cooks and browns the Timpano perfectly!!

Here are some of the ingredients… provolone, salami, your best homemade mini meatballs, hard boiled eggs, ziti pasta ( 3 lbs. cooked very al dente), Romano cheese, and homemade sauce. All the components can be cut up, cooked and ready to go before assembly, just bring everything to room temperature.

The dough is easily made in the food processor, just follow their recipe in the book and it comes out perfect every time! This too, can be made in advance and ready to go ahead of time, but this also needs to be at room temp.

Roll it out very thin and drape the pan, everything is going to be wrapped inside it.

Start layering everything , first the sauce…. pasta… provolone… salami…..

Meatballs…Romano cheese… more sauce… you get the picture!

It takes time, but remember there’s 3 lbs. of pasta here, and well worth the process!! not to mention, it’s going to feed lots of people!
Almost to the top, but not quite!
Filled to the brim!

Cover everything up and trim the excess dough. Now it is ready for the oven!!
It bakes for 1 1/2 hours, it has to rest for 30 minutes in the pan, see how golden brown it gets??
Then you invert it over on a board and let it rest for at least another 1/2 an hour, you can even go a whole hour. Because of the long resting time, you could see how great this would be to bring to a party, you won’t have to worry about it getting cold at all. In fact, I think the longer it rests the better it tastes.

I hope you give this a try for your next big event!

Buon Appetito!!!