Recipe: Timpano

Timpano is a lot of work, but worth the effort. I recommend making the ragout ahead, and the meatballs can be made and frozen.

For the Pastry


• 3.5 pounds flour
    • 3/4 pounds butter
    • 2 pounds margarine
    • 2 egg yolks
    • ice water

In large metal bowl, add flour and salt. Cut butter and margarine into small cubes. Add butter and margarine to flour and work in with fingers until the size of peas. Beat egg yolk and mix in. Add just enough cold water to bring the dough together. Press into four equal-size balls and refrigerate. Chill for at least two hours or overnight.

Spray a gallon size metal bowl with spray oil. Roll out dough and line the bowl with it. Take the rest of the dough and roll out a round to cover the top of the timpano once it is filled. Use the opening of the bowl to measure how large of a top you need.

For the Savory Ragout


• 2 medium onion
    • 2 celery ribs
    • 2 carrots
    • 1/2 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley
    • 12 cloves of garlic
    • 4 ounces pancetta (or smoked bacon)
    • 2 pounds pork ribs
    • 1 bottle red wine
    • 8 ounces tomato paste
    • 2 sixty-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes
    • 8 fennel sausages
    • 1 tablespoon ground oregano
    • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
    • 2 tablespoons fresh minced basil
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 teaspoons black pepper

In food processor chop onion, celery, and carrots. Use the pulse button. You do not want to puree the vegetables. You want them to be coarse. In large heavy sauce pot, brown pancetta, pork ribs, and fennel sausages. Turn and make sure they are well browned. Add the chopped onions, celery, and carrots, stir and cook for five minutes.

Chop the garlic and flat leaf parsley and add to pot. Add the bottle of red wine and scrape the bottom of the pot. Add tomato paste and plum tomatoes. Simmer for one hour.

Remove and save the Fennel sausage (it will be put into the timpano). Add oregano, crushed red pepper, basil, salt, and black pepper. Continue to simmer for one hour more. Take the ribs out—they are not used in the timpano but are wonderful with sauce and pasta.

For the Meatballs


• 1 pound ground beef
    • 1 pound ground pork
    • 1 cup diced, sautéed onion
    • 1 tablespoon fresh minced basil
    • 2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
    • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

In large mixing bowl add beef, pork, and sautéed onion, basil, garlic, oregano, eggs, bread crumbs, salt, and crushed red pepper. Mix and knead until well blended. Using tablespoon, portion and roll to round meatballs (the size of a quarter). You should have approximately 36 small meatballs. Place on baking sheet and brown in 350-degree oven. Do not overcook because they will cook more in the timpano.

For the Poached Chicken Breasts


• boneless chicken breasts
    • 3 shallots
    • 1 cup white wine
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon pepper

In deep sautee pan add shallots, white wine, water, and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add skinless, boneless, chicken breasts and poach for 12 to 14 minutes. Cool, then slice at an angle.

Other Ingredients

• 4 cups cooked penne pasta
    • 2 cups green peas
    • peeled boiled eggs
    • 2 cups grated parmesan cheese
    • 3 cups grated mozzarella

Assembling the Timpano

After lining bowl with pastry, place a layer of meatballs. Add a little ragout and sprinkle grated mozzarella. Layer green peas. Sprinkle grated parmesan and sliced poached chicken breasts. Layer quartered boiled eggs. Layer sliced fennel sausage. Add a little ragout and sprinkle grated mozzarella. Mix four cups of cooked penne pasta with four cups of ragout, add as a layer to the timpano. Add more parmesan. Add more meatballs and sausage and ragout. Place pastry crust on top. Pinch sides to seal timpano. Pierce several holes with a fork to let steam out while cooking.

Cook in 325-degree oven for two hours. To test, tap on the top. The pastry should be firm and when you tap it should sound hollow. (Like a sound of a drum.) Let timpano rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Cover top with a serving tray, then carefully turn over. Bring to the table and let everyone tap on it with their forks.This will help loosen the pastry. Then lift the bowl. The pastry should be brown and beautiful. Slice and serve. If you have leftover ragout, it is nice to have it on the table to serve with the timpano. If there is no ragout left over, then you have enough in the timpano already.

To read more about timpano and Regina's theory that food from warmer, southern regions is just plain better, click here.