The movie Big Night is the story of two Italian immigrant brothers who run a restaurant that is on the brink of bankruptcy. To save the business they agree to risk everything on a feast for the famous singer, Louis Prima. Hoping that this one big night will be what the business needs to survive.
The star of the feast was a Timpano, an Italian dome shaped pasta & meat dish. The Timpano, though quite the undertaking, makes a wonderful presentation on any dinner table. Of course I had to try making one for myself. Though not the exact recipe from the movie, Chef Mario Batali has a delicious recipe, which I used the first time I made this unique pasta dish.
(adapted from Mario Batali)
2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
6 ounces lard or 6 ounces butter
4 egg yolks
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1⁄2 cups toasted breadcrumbs
2 lbs rigatoni pasta or 2 lbs ziti pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 1⁄2 cups your favorite meat pasta sauce
2 cups freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1 -1 1⁄2 cup bechamel sauce
1⁄2 lb prosciutto, cut into 1/4 inch dice
3 gratings nutmeg
To make the dough: Place the flour on a wooden work surface, make a well in the top. Cut the butter into ¼-inch pieces and place in the center of the well with the yolks, ½ teaspoon salt, and a teaspoon of ice water. Mix well with the tips of your fingers to form a lumpy mass. Bring together as a dough and knead for 4-5 minutes. Wrap in plastic and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375-degrees.
Roll out pasta to a large circle ¼-inch thick. Butter the metal bowl and dust thickly with the toasted bread crumbs. Line the buttered dish completely with the sheet of pasta, with a 1 ½-inch edge overhang.
Meanwhile boil 6 quarts of water in a large pasta pot, then add 2 Tablespoons of salt. Cook the rigatoni/ziti in the boiling water, 3 minutes less than the package instructions state. Drain and put in an ice bath, until cold, 2-3 minutes. Toss with olive oil, and set aside.
Mix half of the cooked pasta with 2 ½ cups meat sauce and ½ cup of Parmiagiano, and set aside.
Mix the remaining cooked pasta with half of the bechamel, ¼ cup of Parmigiano, the prosciutto, and nutmeg.
Place this beschamel -sauced pasta into the bowl, and press lightly. Sprinkle with some of the grated Parmigiano. Arrange the meatballs on top in an even layer, and press down again. Sprinkle with more Parmigiano.
Spread the meat-sauced pasta over the meatballs and press down gently. Fold the extra pasta over the whole thing, and press gently to seal.Cover the open top with foil and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven, remove the foil, and invert onto a large serving platter, without removing the bowl.
Allow to rest 10 minutes, then carefully loosen the pasta around the sides with a knife and knock with your knuckles to release the bowl.