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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Timpano: Food Chatter

In Italian, Timpano means: Big Drum.  To me, it's a giant exercise in patience and prayer. This is not difficult to make - not at all.  It's just time consuming and must be thought out well in advance.  There is cooking and chopping and baking and cooling that has to be taken into account.  But the result is so attractive and so pleasing. And when you cut into it, it's amazing to see that so much work went into one dish. It's no wonder that Tony Shalub (Big Night) was so passionate about his native food - who wants plain pasta and meatballs when it can be combined with salami, cheese, hard boiled eggs, homemade sauce, tiny meatballs and encrusted in a giant "bread."

I can't retype all the directions for this because there are trade secrets for the timpano! No, seriously, an entire book was made with the timpano as the basis.  The book was co-written by Stanley Tucci's sister and I must say, it's a terrific guide.  Many times I use the polpette recipe for simple dinner-fare. The kids and my husband simply love the meatballs so much that for my daughter's first birthday party I made these in the theme of "favorite foods."  They're a perfect bite.

I made the eggs and the meat balls two days before assembling, the sauce one day before and I sliced up the salami and the cheese way ahead of time. Hours before I assembled this, I had to make the pasta (3 lbs of it!) and allow it to cool.  Before making the dough, I shooed everyone out of the house: I needed complete and utter concentration.

Take solice in knowing that this is an undertaking that is fun, even though it's labor intensive. Maybe that's why people love to cook so much - it pleases people while tickling the senses.

Book: Cucina & Famiglia: Two Italian Families Share Their Stories, Recipes, and Traditions by Joan Tropiano Tucci and Gianna Scappin with Mimi Shanley Taft (forward by Stanley Tucci)

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