Timpano for Dummies
EP-IC– extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope.
THAT’S what I wanted to make this last weekend; an epic dinner. But it had been a grueling week and I was pretty sore after re-launching my workout program, so I was in search of a
SHORT-CUT — a method or means of doing something more directly and quickly, though not as thoroughly.
I’ve made epic meals in the past, usually for a holiday, and it’s always a two day event consisting of creating everything from scratch and working morning ‘til night just to prepare all of the elements that go into the dish. But that wasn’t going to happen this weekend because I was
SPENT — used up; consumed, depleted of energy, force, or strength; exhausted.
To make matters worse I chose to make the Godzilla of epic meals, the legendary
Italian food-orgy-in-a-bowl; the TIMPANO! And I had already invited the gang over a week ago, who after learning what I was planning to make for dinner proceeded to refer to me as a
CRA-ZY MOTH-ER FUCK-ER — a foolish or impractical and extremely intense individual, often but not always negative.
How was I going to pull this off? Just making my ragu tomato sauce and a load of my kick-ass meatballs was a full-day event, not to mention the 500 step process required to build and then cook this snare-drum-sized monster. Geesh, I picked the wrong week to give up
CO-CAINE — an alkaloid obtained from coca leaves. When sniffed in small amounts, cocaine produces feelings of well-being and euphoria, decreased appetite, relief from fatigue, and increased mental alertness which still wouldn’t help this dumbshit, but, hey, what do I know? I’m just a definition.
Looks like there was only one thing that I could do; choke down a big slice of Pride pie and dumb down the recipe by buying everything off the shelf! That would save me an entire day’s worth of preparation, which I could use to rest up in order to make…
Katt’s Timpano for Dummies
2 pounds of Ziti
4 cups flour
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup of water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup flour
3 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
For the assembly:
2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce
10 oz Genoa Salami diced
1 package of sliced Provolone cheese
1 Lb of shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 packages of precooked meatballs
6 large hard-boiled eggs quartered
3/4 cup of grated Romano cheese
For the Presentation:
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
3 cloves of smashed garlic
If you don’t know what a Timpano is then you’ve never seen the film The Big Night which means I’m revoking your Foodie card. There are a million variations and time intensive methods to making this dish so even though this isn’t Tucci’s recipe this is really the only way that you could build this behemoth in under a day. Trust me.
First up; wine, stat! Gulp down a goblet of it. This doesn’t make the process any faster but it does make it more enjoyable. Then, cook up the pasta. While your water is heating get all of your pre-made ingredients out and let them all come up to room temperature. Outside of making the hard-boiled eggs and cutting up the salami, rolling out the dough is the hardest part of this little adventure. If you’re too lame to make dough, rent the movie and buy a Hot Pocket. I can’t help you.
A side note: The Timpano Bowl – I’ve heard that when they first started making this dish they used a porcelain washbasin to cook it in. I went every where to find a ‘Timpano’ bowl but all I got was dumb looks. Find a oven-proof metal or glazed bowl that is 4 inches deep and 12 to 14 inches across. THAT’S your Timpano bowl. Ready? Let’s do this….
Put your flour, eggs, salt and olive oil into a mixer with a dough hook. Start mixing at a low speed and add the water a tablespoon at a time until it forms a ball, then take it out and knead it with your hands. Let it rest on the counter for five minutes. While this is taking place divide the 2 pounds of cooked ziti into separate bowls and coat with olive oil. Now, let’s prepare the besciamella sauce.
Melt your five tablespoons of butter on high heat in a small sauce pan while you heat the three cups of whole milk in a second pan, but don’t boil it. Once the butter is melted add the flour and stir continuously until it turns a light brown (about three minutes), then start adding the hot milk a half cup at a time. Don’t stop stirring! Once all of the milk has been incorporated add the salt and some nutmeg to taste and then pour it into one of the bowls of cooked ziti. Add a quarter cup of the grated Romano cheese and half of the diced salami and mix well. Now open your first jar of store bought spaghetti sauce and pour it into the other bowl of ziti, add a quarter cup of the Romano and mix. Tired yet? Here comes the hard part…
Take your ball of dough, knead it and then push it down into a flat round circle with your hands. You’re going to start rolling this out from the center to the edge all around the dough. This is going to take a good ten minutes of continual rolling which will make pushups seem easy, but don’t give up! This is the hardest part. Just keep dusting the dough, rolling and flipping it until it’s as thin as you can get. Then you’d better butter up that Timpano bowl ’cause we’re going in! Fold your rolled out dough in half and place it into the buttered bowl and gently center it while pushing the dough into the bottom and along the sides. You should have plenty of dough drooping over the top edge which is what we’ll need to close it once we’re done building our layers. After the dough is in the bowl, fill the bottom with the ziti mixed with the salami and besciamella sauce and push it down gently.
Now grab the slices of provolone. (I used slices here because have you seen what they charge for a block of smoked Provolone lately? I cheaped out on the cheese and meatballs and the ingredients still cost me forty five bucks!) Okay, you’re doing great! We’re getting close now. Cover this layer with the Provolone, then lay in three of the quartered hard boiled eggs and one bag of your precooked meatballs. Now grab that second jar of spaghetti sauce and pour half on top of the eggs and meatballs. Sprinkle that with the remaining diced salami and grab the other bowl of ziti.
Dump that on top and smooth it out with the back of a large spoon while gently pushing down on all of the layers. Now it’s back to the remaining quartered eggs and the meatballs. Lay them down in Happy Town and pour on the remaining spaghetti sauce, then sprinkle it with the last quarter cup of grated Romano cheese. Fire up that oven to 350 and take a deep breath. We’re in the home stretch now!
It’s Mozzarella time! Cover all your hard work with that wonderful bag of aged moo milk and then pull in the dough flaps and press them down on top of the cheese. As you can tell from my picture it doesn’t have to look pretty. Just cover it the best you can and hit it with a little olive oil, then cover it with tin foil and pop it in the oven. Take a break ’cause your gonna need it. (You’ll see…)
After an hour of cooking remove the tin foil. After an additional half hour of cooking without the tin foil hat the Timpano is wanting permission to come aboard, Captain! Remove it from the oven and let it sit for ten minutes while you find some thick pot holders and a platter for our dish. This is the exciting part! Now don’t even try this if you can’t curl a thirty pound dumbbell ’cause the result will bring tears. Put the platter on top and cover your strong hand with the pot holders or some kind of heat-proof gloves designed by N.A.S.A (which I happened to have by the way.) Tip the Timpano bowl and get your pot -holder-covered-strong-hand under the bowl and while you apply top pressure on the platter, (are ya ready?), flip the bowl over! Taa Daa! Now, don’t touch it for thirty minutes. Just leave the lid on. You may see a little leakage at the bottom but don’t sweat it. There won’t be much if any, unless you severely screwed up the dough which, by this time in the process you’ll be so tired that you won’t give a shit. But hey, this was the first time that I tried this and look how mine came out. Get a small sauce pan ready and put two tablespoons of butter and three smashed cloves of garlic in the pan on low heat.
After the thirty minute wait, tap around on the sides and bottom of the bowl to help loosen anything that might have stuck. Then use the twist and shake method to pull off the Timpano bowl to revel your masterpiece! Brush the dome with the melted garlic butter and get everyone seated for The Cutting of the First Piece which, believe it or not is kind of exciting. Then, dig in and drink up! You’ve certainly earned it. Just make sure that all of the store bought jars and bags are out of sight and no one will know that you’re a
PRE-TEND-ER — one who makes a false or hypocritical show, or lays claim to an unavailable position of honor or rank.