Big Night Timpano #SundaySupper

by Amy Kim on April 14, 2013 · 71 comments

Timpano | www.kimchimom.comBig Night. A story about two Italian immigrant brothers who open an Italian restaurant in 1950’s New Jersey. Primo, the gifted chef (Tony Shalhoub) is steadfast to the classic Italian dishes and Secondo is the front man (Stanley Tucci) who tries to keep the restaurant afloat. They are promised a visit from a famous jazz singer which they believe will save their failing restaurant and prepare for the “big night”.

The one star from the movie that I will never forget is the TIMPANO. Simply translated, timpano means “drum” in Italian. It is a baked dish filled with pasta, cheese, meatballs, eggs and all encased in a pasta crust. The bowl that is traditionally used is an enameled steel bowl with a flat base. I had never heard of such a dish before the movie, but I was truly enamored. I wanted a taste. I swore up and down that I was going to make this monster of a dish. Years came and went. I even took an intensive cooking course at some point. And even then, I never attempted to make it.

Until now.

Thanks to Heather at girlichef for hosting today’s Sunday Supper, Movie Inspired Recipes. It was a great trip down memory lane for me and it’s been fun seeing all the movies and recipes by the rest of the Sunday Supper crew!

Notes: I based my recipe on this one that was published in 1996 in the NY Times. I used my favorite meatball recipe and my favorite jarred sauce, RAO’s marinara.

Timpano |


Yields 6-8 servings

For the pasta:
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon olive oil

For the meatballs:
1/8 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
1/4-1/2 cup of milk
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage (pork or turkey), casings removed
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped flat parsley
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pound ground beef

For the sauce:
4 cups of your favorite marinara

For the timpano:
1 pound dried penne or other short-shaped pasta, cooked al dente, drained and reserved
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 hard-boiled eggs, cut in quarters
1 pound mozzarella, cut into 1-inch cubes (not the fresh mozzerella which is too watery for this dish)
1/2 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami

To make the pasta:

1 – Mix the flour and the salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs and the oil to combine with the salted flour. Continue to stir until the dough comes together in a ball. On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until smooth. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

To make the meatballs:

2 – Preheat the oven to 475°F.

3 – Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper and cook for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Take off the heat and set aside.

4 – In a large bowl, add enough milk to the bread to moisten the bread. Add the onion mixture and mash together.

5 – Add the remaining ingredients, get your hands in there, and combine thoroughly.

6 – Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form 1/2-inch round meatballs and distribute evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes. Repeat if there is remaining meatball mixture. Set the finished meatballs aside.

To make the timpano:

7 – Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss the penne with 2 cups of the sauce in a large bowl. Roll out the pasta on a lightly floured surface to make a 24 to 26 inch round. Grease a 3-quart stainless steel bowl with a couple of tablespoons of oil. I used my enameled Dutch oven and it worked beautifully. Gently drape the pasta over the pot and carefully mold the pasta sheet to the contours of the bowl or pot. There should be enough of the sheet hanging over the edge to fold over and cover the filling.


8 – Spoon 1 cup of penne into the pot. Top with 1/2 cup of the sauce, 12 pieces of egg, half of the meatballs, and 1/3 of the mozzarella. Repeat the process, this time using 3 cups of penne, 1 1/2 cups of sauce, the remaining egg pieces, meatballs, and mozzarella. Top with the remaining penne and sauce. Create a final layer with the salami. Fold the pasta over the filling and brush with 1 tablespoon of oil. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.


9 – Bake the timpano for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 45 minutes. To check to see if it’s done, make a small hole at the top using a sharp knife blade. If steam comes out and the cheese is melted, it is done. If not, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. To serve, remove from the oven and cool for 5-10 minutes. Carefully turn upside down onto a large platter.

Timpano |

Here’s what the rest of the Sunday Supper cast will be showcasing today. Sit back, turn off your devices, and enjoy the show!


Toast (bready things)

No Reservations (soups and salads)

Today’s Special (fish, chicken, beef, and pork)

Forks Over Knives (veggie-heavy dishes and sides)

Udon (pasta and noodles)

Just Desserts (sweet treats)

Bottle Shock (beverages)

Sunday Supper MovementI’d love to hear about some of your favorite Movie-Inspired recipes!  Feel free to leave links and/or recipes in the comments.  Also, please join us for our live twitter chat tonight at 7pm (Eastern) using the#SundaySupper hashtag, and check out the Sunday Supper board on Pinterest.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Coming to Orlando July 19-21, the first annual Food and Wine Conference sponsored by #SundaySupper. Visit the website to learn more and join in on the fun.

And I’ll leave you with a clip from Big Night starring the Timpano…


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  • Jennie @themessybakerblog

    This is a massive beast of deliciousness. OMG! My husband would go nuts for a piece of this. Yum!

    • kimchi_mom

      ‘Tis a massive beast! Talk about carbo loading!

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  • Renee Dobbs

    Oh my stars Amy! I’m drooling. What a total vision of deliciousness and I am absolutely certain it tastes as good as it look. Incredible!

    • kimchi_mom

      Thanks Renee!

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  • David

    That is literally most of my favourite comfort foods, wrapped up into one mouthful! Delicious.

    • kimchi_mom

      It has become one of my favorites too!

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  • Toby@Plate Fodder

    Such a gargantuan dish! I’ve made it a couple of times for parties (even a whopping 30 lb one) I love seeing the looks of complete disbelief at the table :)

    Yours looks FAN tas Tic!

    • kimchi_mom

      Oh my gosh, 30 POUNDS?! I wish I could see that! And yes, even with my little 5 pounder, I even got some incredulous looks!

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  • Ann Mah

    Wow, this is seriously impressive!!! I had something similar at a party in Rome, except the pasta had a creamy gorgonzola sauce and the crust was pastry. I’ve dreamed about it ever since! Your version looks incredible.

    • kimchi_mom

      Thanks Ann! I may have to wait a year or so to do this again!

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  • Heather

    AwMawGaw, Amy – you NAILED this Timpano! It is absolutely stunning. I have also had a timpano on my “to make” list since the first time I watched Big Night. And I’m totally using the excuse that I don’t have the pan I need to make it. I need to give in and get one, because I’m in desperate need of a slice of this. Beautiful!

    • kimchi_mom

      My cast iron Dutch oven worked perfectly, but would love to get my hands on one of those traditional steel bowls! And yes, you need to get on the timpano-making bus! :-)

    • kimchi_mom

      And thanks for hosting such a fun Sunday Supper!

  • Shannon C

    You are so brave to try this dish! It looks amazing and intimidation all at the same time. And, inspiring lol I have to try it. Thanks for sharing!

    • kimchi_mom

      Thanks Shannon!

  • Amanda

    This.looks.sooooo.good!!!!! I happened on that movie once when searching Netflix and really enjoyed watching it.

    • kimchi_mom

      Thanks Amanda! I haven’t seen this movie in a while…I may have to dig it up again!

  • Isabel Foodie

    Gorgeous is an understatement… you have completely outdone yourself with this one! Wow!!!!!

    • kimchi_mom

      Thanks Isabel!

  • Richard Harwood

    Amy, That is an ambitious dish for sure, it looks great too!

    • kimchi_mom


  • Stacy

    I love the photos of the fillings going in layer by layer! What a fabulous dish! I’ve never heard of such a thing with cooked pasta and sauce but it reminds me of a dish a friend of mine makes called Mediterranean Pie. All kinds of layers of ham and vegetables and cheese and eggs in a crust and it is shaped very much like your timpano. You have really outdone yourself with this one! I am so impressed!

    • kimchi_mom

      Thanks Stacy! It was really fun to make! I invited a few families over to share…it was so fun!

  • Chef Di

    Holy Cow… this looks and sounds amazing. What an incredible combination of yumminess all in a pasta crust? So much fun!!!

    • kimchi_mom

      Thanks…it was totally fun to make!

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  • Tara

    I have never seen anything like that before. What a magnificent dish!! I loved the clip!!! Got to watch that movie!!

    • kimchi_mom

      Yes, it’s a must-see! You’ll be craving Italian food afterwards!

  • Lizzy Do

    Thanks for reminding me of this dish…I’ve always wanted to try it, too…and yours is spectacular!!!

    • kimchi_mom


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  • Megan Wood

    WOAH – I have never seen anything like this before! This is amazing. I want to try this ASAP!

    • kimchi_mom

      You should give it a whirl! Totally worth it!

  • Martin Redmond

    Wow…I’ve never seen this before! It looks amazing, and what great photos too. I’d love a slice of this!

    • kimchi_mom


  • Debra Eliot

    I love this movie!!!!!!!! I would never have been able to tackle the Timpano though. Cudos to you! This looks as exquisite as the one Primo and Secundo roll out in “Big Night.”

    • kimchi_mom

      Aw, thanks!

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  • Tammi @ Momma’s Meals

    I am so IMPRESSED by this dish!! WOW!

    • kimchi_mom


  • diabeticFoodie


    • kimchi_mom


  • Sandra

    Hahaha…i almost fell off my chair at the last line LOL! Your Timpano is OMG AMAZING! I am not only impressed but i have to try this asap! Wonderfully made Amy!

    • kimchi_mom

      Thanks Sandra!

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  • Katie

    Oh. My. GOSH!!! This is absolutely amazing…the layers, the flavors…I am dying to make a timpano of my own. Seriously impressive.

    • kimchi_mom

      Thanks Katie! It took some time, but it was pretty fun to make!

  • KudosKitchen-Renee

    Oh My Gosh! I’m completely impressed with your dish. It’s looks absolutely perfect and like it was a ton of work! You did an amazing job!

    • kimchi_mom


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  • Conni

    WOW!!! This looks AMAZING! I have never seen this movie, but I love both of those actors. I’ll be adding it to my Netflix list :)

    • kimchi_mom

      Definitely a must-see!

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  • Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere

    This is simply amazing! Now you’ve put another dish on my culinary bucket list!

    • kimchi_mom


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  • Marcela Ramirez

    omg i Need to try this… I had no idea this existed!

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