Layered with love
Annual assembling of timpano brings a family together
Family at its best: Timpano is a lot like family: a diverse collection of flavors, textures, layers and colors. It requires work, yes, and is a bit finicky but so very worth it. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
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. But many of the components can be made ahead. The sauce and meatballs can be cooked and frozen, up to a month ahead. The hard-cooked eggs and dough can be prepared the day before, and the cheese and salami chopped. Bring all ingredients to room temperature before assembling. The pasta should be cooked, drained and left to rest at room temperature while rolling out the dough.
The timpano fillings and assembly and baking directions come from "Cucina and Famiglia: Two Italian Families Share Their Stories, Recipes and Traditions" (William Morrow), by Joan T. Tucci, Giana Scappin and Mimi S. Taft. Their recipe has been reprinted in this fall's "The Tucci Cookbook," by the same authors, along with Stanley Tucci. Dough and meatball recipes are from Steve Lindhorst at Tipsycook.com. The sauce recipe was developed by my mom, Jennifer J. Johnson.
To cook the timpano, you will need a large, oven-safe metallic pan. Our family uses a washbasin that is roughly 14 1/2 inches in diameter and 4 1/2 inches deep. A 6- to 8-quart stainless steel bowl works well. Because of the variability of cooking vessels, you may have leftovers of some of the components here. Save them for another meal.
For the sauce:
1/4 cup olive oil
7 cloves garlic, smashed
4 ribs celery quartered, chopped
2 1/2 yellow onions, finely chopped
2 large carrots peeled, quartered, chopped
3 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
1 can (28 ounces) tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 large handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 large handful fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Freshly ground pepper