After I saw it in Big Night I decided to try it. I made up the recipe based on the movie. By far the most difficult par of it was rolling out the pasta. I was doing it for a party so I used a huge stainless steel bowl as the mold. I've made it twice and I don't think it is good enough to make again. I think the problem is similar to the problem of cooking the pasta in the soup rather than cooking them separately and adding them to the soup. The flavor gets sucked up and diminished by the filling pasta. The second time I made it I made the sauce much spicier and put in less pasta, but I felt it was still under flavored and too much pasta for the meats. The problem with adding much more sauce it that it wil soak though in the drum and weaken it. Weigh the fact that I am overly critical of my own cooking when you decide if you want to make it. Here is the recipe and the comments I made at the time:
Timpano de Monte d’Oro
(Pasta “Drum” Filled with Pasta, Sausage, and Eggs)
Traditionally a timpano is made in a straight-sided, drum-shaped casserole, but I used a very large stainless steel bowl, so my timpano was semi-spherical instead of cylindrical. To maintain your sanity, make the sauce, cook the sausage, hard-boil the eggs, and roll out the pasta the day before. Then reheat the sauce, sausage, and eggs (I nuked the latter for a few minutes) when you’re ready to assemble the timpano, so that you don’t end up with an overcooked outer skin and an inside that’s still cold.
1 ½ gallons good tomato sauce
7 pounds Italian sausage
Pam no-stick cooking spray
18 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
2 pounds ricotta
½ pound fresh spinach leaves, cleaned and dried
2 pounds penne or another shape of dry pasta
2 pounds pennette or another shape of dry pasta
2 cups grated real Parmesan cheese
Pasta dough (see recipe below)
1 egg, well beaten
1. Watch the movie Big Night and take notes.
2. Cook the sausages in a large skillet in a small amount of water. Cool and slice the sausage. Skim some of the fat from the skillet and pour the remaining fat and other juices into the tomato sauce.
3. Make the pasta dough and roll out (see recipe) into a disk large enough to line the bowl you are using as a mold and wrap completely over the top of the timpano. The bowl I used measured 16 inches across the top and 22 inches rim to rim across the bottom of the bowl. That meant I needed circle of dough 40 inches across for the lining, including a couple of inches for necessary overlap. One good tip I got was to roll the dough out the night before. (It can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated overnight.) That way if things go badly you’ll have time to make another batch.
4. The day of serving, cook the penne and pennette in boiling water and drain. Heat the sauce and sauce the pasta generously. Reheat the sausage and the eggs.
5. Preheat the oven to 350.
6. Spray the inside of the bowl thoroughly with Pam.
7. Center the rolled-out disk of pasta dough in the bowl. Press the dough gently into the bowl, molding it against the sides. (I needed at least two small folds to get it to fit.) Quickly and thoroughly drape the portion of the dough hanging over the sides, and the top two inches or so inside the bowl, with plastic wrap, so that the pasta doesn’t dry out while you fill the timpano.
8. Arrange a layer of pasta in the timpano. The pasta shapes will make a subtle pattern on the timpano shell, so if you arrange the noodles artistically the final product will look very suave. If you just dump the pasta in, as I did, the finished timpano looks a little like a giant golden-brown brain.
9. Top the layer of pasta with alternating layers of reheated sausages, pasta, Parmesan, eggs, ricotta, and spinach. Pour some remaining sauce over the top. You don’t want to make it soupy, but the sheet of pasta will absorb moisture as it bakes, so be generous.
10. Remove the plastic wrap drape. Flop the pasta dough hanging over the sides over the top of the timpano, so that it covers thoroughly. Seal with beaten egg brushed into the folds, but don’t let any egg slop into the crack between the bowl and the pasta lining. 11. Bake for 90 minutes.
12. Remove the timpano from the oven. Carefully turn the timpano upside down on a large platter or tray. (This is really a two-person job. Wear aprons and have lots of potholders ready.) If all goes well, the timpano will slip out of the bowl onto the platter.
13. Remove the bowl and let the timpano cool for 15 minutes before serving. Cut with a large knife and use a large spatula to serve. Any leftovers can be frozen.
Pasta for a Timpano
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour (see note)
10 large eggs
1. Mound the flour on a large work surface. Make a well and crack the eggs into the well. Stir the eggs into the flour with a fork. With your hands, bring it all together into a ball and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth. (Add an egg or more flour if needed.)
2. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap.
3. Roll out the dough. When you have a 20-inch circle, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest again. Then roll out to the full size you need and cover it in plastic wrap till you are ready to use it.
Note: Semolina flour is available at health-food stores.
One final comment: I discussed this with my wife/victim. She thinks it would be better if it was served with extra sauce on the side. I think that's a good idea. So make it 2 gallons of sauce and serve a couple quarts on the side. Whew...... BTW my recipe will easily serve 40.
I checked out your recipe because Mr. Pobo and I used to make something similar, that he learned at a cooking school in Italy. However, what we used to make was something that was lined with fried eggplant slices, bottom and sides, and then filled with ziti and sauce and baked. The subsequent "cake" would be sliced into wedges like a regular cake. It was delicious, but time-consuming and ultimately, not worth it, in our minds.
We made it once, some years ago because we saw Big Night and happened to have an exactly-three-quart stainless bowl. It is good, and v. fancy of course, but not the best Italian dish I've ever had. It seems more to impress than to swoon over. If you don't have a meat slicer, user sliced salami so it is less of a pain to prepare.
I made the Big Night timpano from the Tucci family cookbook a few years ago, too. A lot of work and I even had to buy the special bowl for it (it was for a friend's birthday party). The dish certainly looked impressive but I'd agree with Joebob - NOT the best Italian dish I've ever made. It's heavy and the variety of ingredients just seem to muddle up together. I did make a "timpano" style dish that used eggplant slices as a kind of "shell"; this was much better. I also made a chicken-based timpano encased in a pastry shell that was quite good, but not particularly Italian in taste.
Grotto, a restaurant in Boston, does Big Night dinners every once in a while. The timpano is impressive, but not filled with as much stuff as in the movie.
The recipe used in the movie can be found in "Cucina & Famiglia" by Stanley Tucci's mother (in fact, the timpano is on the cover). I do want to give it a try at some point...