It's a pasta pie shaped like a drum with a crust, and "one of the most important things in the world," according to passionate chef Primo, as he first introduces timpano in the film Big Night. Or, as far as Oliver Babish is concerned, it's "one of the coolest dishes I've ever seen."
Timpano, aka timbale, was the starring dish in the 1996 film, and based on a family recipe of co-star, co-writer, and co-director Stanley Tucci, the current star of CNN'sSearching for Italyseries.
It's an old-school pasta pie filled with layer upon layer of meatballs, hard-boiled eggs, cooked pasta and genoa salami, set inside a crispy dough crust.
In the film, when the two sparring Italian brothers prepare a feast to save their failing restaurant, they stand over their finished work of art wide-eyed and trembling. Following some tender tapping of the timpano, the most important dish in the world leaves the kitchen to be presented to assembled VIP diners.
A tense evening of cooking, and an even more tense chef, is finally rewarded with Pascal's infamous words when he rises from the table and announces: "this is so f*****g good I should kill you".
Re-live that iconic moment from Big Night:
How to Make Timpano from Big Night
If you're ready to take on the might of the timpano, here's how to make it from scratch, in what will not only be a big night, but a long night. There are many elements to making a timpano, most of which can be prepared ahead of time. However, this is an endurance project with a few nerve-wracking twists and turns. But what would a timpano be without some theatre?
In the video recipe below, Oliver Babish shows how to make Tucci's Timpano from the film Big Night from scratch. First, he makes a tomato sauce, then meatballs and then homemade pasta. After a three-hour sleep he's back to make the timpano crust, similar to the pasta, but with more egg yolks and olive oil. Next, he lines the dutch oven with the crust, and puts down a layer of cooked pasta, meatballs, boiled eggs, more pasta and mozzarella cheese, with a little sauce in between each layer. This is followed by more meatballs, aged provolone and one last layer of eggs and genoa salami, then more mozzarella, pasta, and provolone, with pasta gently folded over the top. It then gets a couple of hours in the oven, and at least a half-hour rest before timpano perfection is reached.
Remember, unveil your timpano in front of generously applauding dinner guests for maximum impact.
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