Stanley Tucci’s timpano recipe | Food (2024)


Step-by-step instructions on how to create the film star’s family classic

Jay Rayner: the day I cooked timpano with Tucci

Jay Rayner

Sun 17 Oct 2021 14.00 CEST

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The dough for timpano is rolled out into a thin round, the diameter of which is determined by the pan you are baking it in. Add together the diameter of the bottom of the pan, the diameter of the top of the pan, and twice the height of the pan. The total will equal the approximate diameter needed. The dough may be kneaded in advance and set aside, while you prepare the pan, or refrigerated overnight. Return it to room temperature before rolling it out. It is important to grease the pan generously with butter and sprayed olive oil before lining it with the dough. Greasing and lining the pan with the dough may be done while the pasta is cooking.

The meat used in preparing the ragu is generally served for dinner the night before the timpano is baked, because no one has room for anything other than salad after eating timpano.

This is the traditional way the Tuccis make ragu. My maternal grandmother made a lighter version of this same sauce. It calls for spare ribs and stewing beef in this recipe, but different cuts may be added depending on what is on hand – pork chops, sausage, pig’s feet. It is delicious with polpette (meatballs), which may be added to the sauce during the last half hour of cooking. The sauce may be prepared two days ahead of serving. Refrigerate it overnight and reheat before tossing with the pasta. It may also be frozen with the meat and meatballs.

Serves 12-16
For the dough
plain flour 500g, plus more for dusting
eggs 4 large
sea salt 1 tsp
olive oil 3 tbsp
water 125m

To prepare the pan
olive oil

For the filling
ziti 1.3kg, cooked very al dente (about half the time recommended on the package) and drained
olive oil 2 tbsp
ragu Tucci 2 x recipe quantity (see below), at room temperature
Genoa salami 800g, cut into 5mm x 10mm pieces, at room temperature
sharp provolone cheese 800g, cut into 5mm x 10mm cubes, at room temperature
hard-boiled large eggs 12, shelled, quartered lengthwise, and each quarter cut in half to create chunks, at room temperature
meatballs 24 small, at room temperature
pecorino romano 100g, finely grated
eggs 6 large, beaten

For the ragu Tucci (enough for 8, make double for timpano)
olive oil 50ml
stewing beef 500g, trimmed of fat, rinsed, patted dry and cut into medium-sized pieces
country-style spare ribs 500g, trimmed of fat, cut in half, rinsed and patted dry
onions 115g, roughly chopped
garlic 3 cloves, roughly chopped
dry red wine 125ml
tomato puree 175g
warm water 375ml, plus more as needed
whole plum tomatoes 5 x 400g tins, passed through a food mill or pureed in a blender
fresh basil leaves 1 tbsp
fresh oregano leaves chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried

To make the ragu, warm the olive oil in a stew pot set over a medium-high heat. Sear the stewing beef until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside in a bowl. Add the spare ribs to the pot and sear until they are brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the ribs and set aside in the bowl with the stewing beef. (If your pot is big enough to hold all the meat in a single layer, it may be cooked at the same time.)

Stir the onions and garlic into the pot. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the onions begin to soften and lose their shape, about 5 minutes. Stir in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pot clean. Add the tomato puree. Pour 125ml of the warm water into one of the empty tomato tins to loosen any residual paste and then pour the water into the pot. Cook to warm the paste through, about 2 minutes. Add the strained tomatoes along with the remaining 250ml of warm water. Stir in the basil and oregano. Cover with the lid slightly askew and simmer to sweeten the tomatoes, about 30 minutes.

Return the meat to the pot along with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. Cover with the lid slightly askew and simmer, stirring frequently, until the meat is very tender and the tomatoes are cooked, about 2 hours. Warm water may be added to the sauce, in 125ml portions, if the sauce becomes too thick. If you have made meatballs, they may be added during the last half hour of cooking. The meatballs will soften and absorb some of the sauce.

To make the dough, place the flour, eggs, salt and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. (A large-capacity food processor may also be used.) Add 3 tablespoons of the water and mix. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together and forms a ball. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead to make sure it is well mixed, about 10 minutes. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.

(To knead the dough by hand, mix the flour and salt together on a clean, dry work surface or pastry board. Form the dry ingredients into a mound and then make a well in the centre. Break the eggs into the centre of the well and beat them lightly with a fork. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the water. Use the fork to gradually incorporate some of the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Continue mixing the dry ingredients into the eggs, adding the remaining water 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead the dough with your hands to make a well-mixed, smooth, dry dough. If the dough becomes too sticky, add more flour. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.)

Flatten the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour and roll it out, dusting with flour and flipping the dough over from time to time to keep it from sticking to the board, until it is about 2mm thick and the desired diameter.

Grease the timpano baking pan very generously with butter and olive oil so that it is well lubricated. Fold the dough in half and then in half again to form a triangle and place it in the pan. Unfold the dough and arrange it in the pan, gently pressing it against the bottom and the side and draping the extra dough over the side. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 160C fan/gas mark 4.

Take the filling, toss the drained pasta with the olive oil and allow it to cool slightly before tossing with a quarter of the ragu. Distribute about a quarter of the pasta over the dough on the bottom of the timpano. Top with a quarter of the salami, a quarter of the provolone, 3 of the hard-boiled eggs, a quarter of the meatballs and a third of the pecorino cheese. Pour another quarter of the ragu over these ingredients. Repeat this process to create additional layers using an equal amount of each ingredient until they have come within 2cm of the top of the pan, ending with a final layer of the ragu. Pour the beaten eggs over the filling. Fold the dough over the filling to seal completely. Trim away and discard any overlapping dough. Make sure that the timpano is tightly sealed. If you notice any small openings, cut a piece of the trimmed dough to fit over the opening, using a small amount of water to moisten the scraps to ensure a tight seal has been made.

Bake until lightly browned, about 1 hour. Then cover with aluminium foil and continue baking until the dough is golden brown and the timpano is cooked through (and reaches an internal temperature of 48C), about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 30 minutes to cool and contract before attempting to remove from the pan. (The baked timpano should not adhere to the pan. To test, gently shake the pan to the left and then to the right. It should spin slightly in the pan. If any part is still attached, carefully detach with a knife.)

To remove the timpano from the pan, place a baking sheet or thin cutting board that’s large enough to cover the entire diameter of the pan on top of the timpano. Grasp the baking sheet or cutting board and the rim of the timpano pan firmly and invert the timpano. Remove the pan and allow the timpano to cool for 30 minutes more.

Using a long, sharp knife, cut a circle approximately 8cm in diameter in the centre of the timpano, making sure to cut all the way through to the bottom. Then slice the timpano into individual portions as you would a pie, leaving the centre circle as a support for the remaining pieces. The cut pieces should hold together, revealing the built-up layers of great stuff.

Recipe adapted from Taste by Stanley Tucci (Penguin Books Ltd, £20). To support The Guardian and Observer, order your copy at Delivery charges may apply


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Stanley Tucci’s timpano recipe | Food (2024)


What part of Italy is timpano from? ›

Known more commonly as “timballo,” the name “timpano” comes from the Calabria region of southern Italy from where Stanley Tucci's family hails. Timpano is a dish that requires quite a bit of time to prepare.

What was the dish they made in Big Night? ›

A timpano is an Italian dish of pasta, tomato sauce, roasted vegetables (and sometimes meat), hard-boiled eggs, and cheese shaped into a dome, covered with dough and baked. It was made famous in America in the Stanley Tucci movie Big Night, and is a dramatic centerpiece dish for any meal.

What recipes are in the Tucci cookbook? ›

For acclaimed actor Stanley Tucci, teasing our taste buds in classic foodie films such as Big Night and Julie & Julia was a logical progression from a childhood filled with innovative homemade Italian meals: decadent Venetian Seafood Salad; rich and gratifying Lasagna Made with Polenta and Gorgonzola Cheese; spicy ...

What does Timpano mean in Italian? ›

Timpano may refer to: The Italian, Spanish and Portuguese words for eardrum. The singular of Timpani. Timballo, an Italian baked pasta dish.

Why is it called Timpano? ›

The name “Timpano” comes from the Italian word for “drum.” This ambitious creation is famously featured as the main dish of the climactic meal in the classic film Big Night.

What is the timpano pasta dome Gwen Stefani? ›

The dish is described as layers of meats, cheese, marinara sauce and pasta encased in a buttery crust. Gwen prefers to make the dish using pizza dough instead of pasta, but says that may make some Italians angry. Watch of clip of their first attempt at making the dish together from a few years ago.

What is the history of the timpano? ›

The timpano is said to date back to the 19th century, and is said to be the favorite dish of writer Giuseppe di Tomasi di Lampedusa, who consumed his timpano made with the "unborn eggs from the ovary of a chicken." And while the dish is commonly thought to come from southern Italy's Calabria region (via The Chicago ...

What was the point of the movie Big Night? ›

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said of the film, "'Big Night' is one of the great food movies, and yet it is so much more. It is about food not as a subject but as a language--the language by which one can speak to gods, can create, can seduce, can aspire to perfection."

Can Stanley Tucci eat food? ›

"Now that I can almost eat everything, or eat almost everything, I do want to eat almost everything, so I do have to be careful," Tucci told Insider. "I can't at my age, that's probably a terrible idea. But it does make you want to embrace it."

What is the Tucci family's must have snack? ›

The Tucci family's must-have snack

For the Tucci family, a feast is not complete without one Italian staple. Zeppole are deep-fried doughnuts that Stanley Tucci calls "addictively delicious."

What did Stanley Tucci eat in Florence? ›


Here, Tucci tastes cucina povera, a style of cooking that originated in rural Italy. – The next dining spot is Marco Maselli's Osteria Cinghiale Bianco, which serves incredible ribollita, pappa al pomodoro, and Panzanella. These three famous Tuscan dishes are made with stale, saltless bread.

What part of Italy is fettuccine from? ›

Modern fettuccine Alfredo was invented by Alfredo Di Lelio in Rome. According to family accounts, in 1892 Alfredo Di Lelio began to work in a restaurant that was located in piazza Rosa and run by his mother Angelina.

What region of Italy is pappardelle from? ›

Pappardelle are long, flat and broad ribbons of (traditionally) egg pasta, that originate in Toscana (Tuscany), a region known for rich, intense – and generally meaty – sauces.

What region is pasta fa*gioli from? ›

Pasta fazool or pasta fazul: is a popular Americanized version of the dish, which is a phonetic spelling of the Neapolitan dialect phrase "pasta e fasule." The origins of pasta e fa*gioli are not clear, as it is a dish that has been prepared in various regions of Italy for centuries.

Where is Tetrazzini from? ›

Some accounts ascribe tetrazzini as a creation of Auguste Escoffier. Other sources claim tetrazzini to be invented in the early 1900s by Ernest Arbogast, the chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California, where Luisa Tetrazzini made her American debut at the Tivoli as Gilda in Rigoletto on January 11, 1905.


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