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  • Writer's pictureBig Rick Stuart

Timpano Should Be a Thanksgiving Staple

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This show stopper, made famous by Stanley Tucci, is a worthy centerpiece to your seasonal feast.

To quote Tony Shalhoub’s character from the 1996 food-fest classic Big Night, “Timpano is a pasta with a special crust… And the inside? The most important things in the world.” In Italy, where it’s more commonly referred to as “timballo,” a dome-shaped shell made of pasta, rice, or eggplant is filled with an elegant layering of pasta, meat, cheese, and vegetables that varies from region to region. Stanley Tucci’s much-discussed family recipe includes his family’s ragu, meatballs, hard-boiled eggs, Genoa salami, and pasta. I’ve put my own family’s spin on it by adding a layer of sautéed spinach usually found in Aunt Carmella’s spinach pie, and replacing the hard boiled eggs with pizza rustica filling—a mixture of diced Italian deli meat and cheese bound together with egg, similar to a quiche.

It is not an easy meal to make by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not so difficult if you plan it out ahead of time and recruit some willing participants. This isn’t just one entree, but a covenant of Italian dishes that have vowed to coexist together beneath the veil of a pasta shell for your enjoyment. Each layer requires its own recipe and set of hands, culminating in a beautifully terrifying moment of suspense as someone physically inverts the dish onto its base before cutting it open. The timpano is best unveiled in front of an audience of hungry guests, where your hard work will be deeply rewarded with much deserved praise.

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