Cooking a Timpano

A while back I stumbled across a YouTube video of a man cooking possibly the most ridiculous dish I’d ever seen.

Naturally, I had to try making one.

After watching the video a half dozen times, it was time to recruit some help. There was simply no way I was going to make that entire dish by myself, especially with an infant in the house. Kate, from previous adventures, stepped up.

Fortunately for us, the producer of that video had posted the entire recipe on reddit. After a combined three trips to different grocery stores to find everything, we got together at 10am on a Sunday morning to get started.

Just like in the video, first step was to get the sauce going. We used one giant onion quartered. A medium onion halved would have probably been better.

Our tomato sauce, cooking down on the stove top

Next step was to start the meatballs. A couple changes had to happen here. We’d originally planned to buy cuts of meat and grind them in my food processor, just like in the videos. But Cuisinart put a stop to that. Finding ground beef and pork was easy. We decided to substitute some bulk Italian sausage for the short rib, and after Kate consulted at length with the butcher at Market of Choice, he recommended we substitute a meatloaf ground meat mix for the veal.

Unfortunately, I’m also without a stand mixer, so we tried to make due with my hand mixer. Shortly afterward, I thoroughly cleaned my kitchen walls. Kate then rolled all our meatballs.

Kate, rolling a lot of meatballs

Because I don’t own a gnocchi striper and we didn’t want to start this whole process a day early (to give the pasta time to dry), we just used some fancy fusilli and skipped that entire step. That gave us two hours to have some lunch and do some completely unrelated computer work.

Here’s a time lapse of everything so far, including a couple trips by me to come over and feed Hudson. Sorry about the quality, this was shot with a web cam and a shell script.

Next step was our dough. We were actually using Tipo 00 flour, which has a really great consistency like sand. The recipe called for 15oz of flour, which I needed to convert into cups. I did some math and came up with 3¼ cups. We ended up with the strangest dough consistency we could imagine. We consulted the video, and he adds not only egg, but also oil (whereas in the recipe, he only calls for egg). We added oil. Still weird. Then we added more eggs, and wound up with a vaguely doughy mass with egg all over my counter. Time to try again.

I made a fourth trip to the grocery store and grabbed the last bag of Tipo 00 flour as well as another dozen eggs. Meanwhile, Kate took a crash YouTube course on how to make dough.

When I got home, the first thing I checked was my math. Totally wrong. We only needed 1⅞ cups. The new dough was so much easier to work with.

Kate working the dough on my kitchen island

After letting the dough sit plastic wrapped for half an hour, we rolled it until we could just make out the surface below it.

The dough rolled out, over two feet in diameter

And then time to carefully roll and unroll the dough.

Once the dough was rolled, it was time to layer and fill. Hudson helped supervise.

Hudson watching me cut some Genoa Salami

There was a lot of layering to be done.

Inside of the timpano, with fillings of meatballs and hard boiled eggs

A lot of layering.

Kate and me cutting up some cheese to fill our timpano

Rather than use a dutch oven, we simply used a large sauce pan. But we still had some great color when it came out.

Kate standing next to our timpano

Then it was time for the flip and reveal

In retrospect, I think we’d should have made the dough a little thicker and used a little more butter on the inside of the pan. Our layers weren’t quite as well defined as I’d wanted, but I’m still happy with it.

A slice of timpano, showing all the layers

Somehow, it really was different than just a Italian lasagna cake. The egg was a surprising addition, but good. But the whole thing was dense. The five of us could hardly make a dent.

A slice of timpano, showing all the layers

A couple changes we’d make next time:

  • We forgot to add the tomato paste to the sauce. It wasn’t listed in the recipe, but it was in the video. I think it would have helped the sauce a bit.
  • We forgot to add the reserved crushed tomatoes. Our sauce ended up with a little too much meat. The added tomatoes helped round out the sauce quite a bit the next day when I was reheating.
  • Next time I’d invite everyone over early, and ask that they bring the salami, the eggs, and some of the cheese. Then everyone could watch the process and make the whole thing more of a social affair.
  • We’d halved the eggs, but I think we should had sliced thinner slices.
  • We underfilled the middle, leading to some sagging.
  • Since veal demi glaze costs a fortune, we substituted the broth and gelatin mixture. I made it about half an hour before we needed it, which made it act like jello. I wish I’d waited until right when I’d needed it.
  • Used a bit more sauce between layers

There’s also an album of images from this adventure.

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