I think it would be fair to say that the revealing of the timpano in Big Night is pretty much the culinary money shot of the movie. A pie loaded with pasta, cheese, two sauces and a geansaí load of meat is certainly not for the faint of heart, or indeed anyone with a heart condition. But for everyone else, it makes for one heckuva tasty ass delight.
Last week when we screened Big Night, we presented our own timpano on the stage of The Sugar Club at the end of the movie. Giving the first slice to mama mia/me auld wan, was a cool buzz. Sharing the rest with everyone who came along to see the movie was even better. Watching everyone bumrush the stage when we said it was free was kinda scary, a bit like a Zombie march if I'm honest. But at least I knew they wanted our food and not our brains...
As there is a fair amount of prep involved, it's actually quite time consuming, but it would be unjust to say that it's hard to make. You will need to get an enamel pot to cook it in, at least 14 inches in diameter. And Luca came up with a great idea - put a pyrex dish underneath it so that the heat doesn't go too hard directly onto the bottom. It worked for us as we had to use the pizza oven in the club and were afraid that the base stone would get too hot.
I would recommend cooking all the meats the night before, especially the meat ragu as it's always better the day after. Enjoy!
- SIMPLE BEEF RAGU -
1 pound large round steak, cut into cubes
2 jars of passata
Half a bulb of garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of oregano
1/2 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 litre of good beef stock
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 glass of simple red wine
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pot and brown the meat. Remove with slotted spoon and put aside. Heat remaining olive oil and lightly cook the onion, then the garlic. Then drop in the passata and fry it up a little for about a minute or so. Put everything else in (including the beef), bring it to the boil and then drop it down to a simmer. Let it cook for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally so it won't stick.
While that's cooking you can sort out the sausage and the meatballs....
- SAUSAGE AND MEATBALLS -
2 packs of Hick's Italian Sausages
1 pound of pork mince
1 pound of beef mince
2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 heaped tablespoon of hot chilli powder (this is optional but I liked it spicy as it counteracted everything else)
1 tablespoon of dried basil
Half a bulb of garlic, chopped and lightly fried
2 teaspoons of salt
Heat a griddle pan with some olive oil and cook off the sausages. Or else you can barbecue or even hot smoke them. When they're done, let them cool off and then slice them diagonally.
Combine all the other ingredients in a mixing bowl with your hands. Shape the meat balls into an even size (but not too big), place them on a tray and grill them. They may go a little dry but that's grand because the sauce in the Timpano will keep them plenty moist.
Here is what all my meats looked like after I cooked them all. Like I said, make them a day in advance.
Luca made this one. He seemed to think that it was just fine but I thought it was excellent. Studding the shallot with a bay leaf and cloves was pretty freakin' cool and you could really taste it. Nice touch.
2-1/2 cups milk
1 shallot with 1 bay leaf stuck to it using 1 – 2 whole cloves
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Combine the milk, shallot, and nutmeg in a saucepan over low heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes, uncovered, to infuse the flavor into the milk. Remove the clove and bay leaf from the shallot, but leave it in the sauce.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium, heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir in 4 tablespoons all-purposed flour. Cook uncovered stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon or spatula, over medium-low heat until the roux is fragrant but not darkened, 2 – 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and slowly mix in the milk, about 1/2 cup at a time. Turn the heat back on and simmer 8 – 10 minutes. Do not boil. Season with salt and pepper.
- PASTA -
1 kilo of rigatoni or large penne. Boil it as you normally would but stop cooking it about 2 minutes away from al dente. If it's too soft the pasta doesn't hold in the timpano. When it's cooked, cool it off in some ice and put it aside.
Again, Luca made this and did a sterling job. You will need a clean, large flat table/counter.
4 cups flour
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup water, divided
To make the dough, place flour, eggs, salt and olive oil in a mixing bowl mixer. Add 3 tablespoons water, roll up your sleeves and start combining it all, old school with your hands. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 1/2 cup, until mixture comes together and forms a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead to make sure it is well mixed. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
- ASSEMBLING THE TIMPANO -
Olive Oil and Butter to grease the enamel pot with.
2 cups of Tallegio Cheese, broken into little chunks
1.5 cups of good Parmesan cut into little slices
Generously grease the timpano baking pan with butter and olive oil. Fold the dough in half and then in half again, to form a triangle, and place it in the pan. Open the dough and arrange it in the pan, gently pressing it against the bottom and the sides, draping the extra dough over the sides. Set aside.Heat your oven to 180 degrees.
Mix 6 cups of pasta with 2 cups of meat ragu and place it at the bottom of the timpano. Then evenly distribute half your sausage and place an even amount of tallegio on top of it.
Then you need to put a layer of meatballs on top of that along with half of your parmesan and another cup of ragu.
Mix another 6 cups of pasta with your bechamel this time and layer that on top.
Then you need to repeat what you did the first time round: drop the other half of your sausage and tallegio on top of that followed by more ragu pasta, meatballs and parmesan. If there's any remaining ragu left over, pour it on top.
Fold the dough over the filling to seal completely. Trim away and discard any double layers of dough.Take the trimmed dough pieces, form a ball, and roll it out to form a 'lid' to cover. You can lay them in thin strips if you want, it doesn't really matter as long as the lid is firm. When I had to stick two pieces of dough together around the perimeter of the pot, I used a little brush if water to make sure they held. Think that was a good idea.
Place the bowl on a pyrex dish and stick it in the oven for an hour. Then carefully remove and wrap it in tin foil and bake for another 30 minutes but without the pyrex and let it rest for another 30.
Carefully slice and serve. Be prepared for any of your guests to have a very serious coronary.