December 4, 2023


Food & Travel Enthusiast

Stanley Tucci’s timpano recipe | Food

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.

Stanley Tucci & Jay Rayner for The Observer Food Monthly
Photograph: Sophia Spring/The Observer

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

Jay Rayner and Stanley Tucci line a baking dish with pasta-pastry
Lining the baking dish. Photograph: Sophia Spring/The Observer

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.)

Stanley Tucci  and Jay Rayner fill the timpano pie
Filling the pie. Photograph: Sophia Spring/The Observer

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.

Stanley Tucci & Jay Rayner for The Observer Food Monthly Grooming: JoJo Dutton Food styling: Liberty Greene Fennell
Photograph: Sophia Spring/The Observer

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