The Big Night – Timpano (Timballo) for a Crowd

January 6, 2020  •  One Dish Meals, Pasta & Pizza

Want to impress people for a fun dinner party? Then make a timpano, just like Stanley Tucci in the movie Big Night. You can prep the entire thing the day before (because it is a bit of work), then simply bake it before your party. The photos below will show the steps, the recipe below the quantities.

Roll the pasta dough (use my simple egg pasta) into thin sheets for the outer layerPrep the bowl with cooking spray and a generous coating of bread crumbsCook the pasta sheets one at a time and layer them around the bowl, leaving an overlap all the way aroundLayer thin slices of prosciutto over the pasta layerToss half of the ziti in béchamel sauce and layer over the prosciutto, pressing it up the sides into a single layerAdd the meatballs……then add 1/3 of the ragu sauce over the meatballs.Cover that layer with cheese then basil leavesToss the remaining ziti with the rest of the ragu sauce and layer it on top of the meatball layer, then press the eggs into the ziti around the edges of the bowl.Spread the remaining cheeses over the ziti layer, then fold up the pasta pieces to form the base of the timpano/timballo. Spray with cooking spray and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, remove from the refrigerator 4 to 5 hours before you want to eat (so the Timpano can come back to room temperature, making the baking process shorter). Two hours before you want to eat, remove the plastic wrap and cover with foil (or I simply placed a large pot lid over the bowl). Bake at 300 degrees for one hour, then turn the heat up to 375 degrees, and bake until an instant read thermometer (I love my new one from Deiss!) reads 120 degrees in the center, 30-60 minutes longer.Working with another person, invert the Timpano/timballo on a large cutting board, and tap the bowl to be sure it’s loose before lifting the bowl off.Let sit for 15 minutes before slicing and serving with marinara sauce and Parmigiano cheese.
Timpano (Timballo) for a Crowd
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 16
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 stalk celery, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Parmigano rinds, optional
  • Cooking spray
  • 1-2 cups breadcrumbs
  • Egg pasta, rolled into sheets
  • 2 pounds ziti, cooked
  • 1½ cupsbechamel sauce
  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
  • ½ pound thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 14-16 small meatballs
  • 1 pound grated mozzarella cheese
  • 12 large basil leaves
  • 8 large hard cooked eggs, peeled
  • Marinara sauce, for serving
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for serving
  1. Make the ragu sauce first. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the carrot, onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper and sweat until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the meat and cook slowly until cooked through. Add the tomato sauce and cream and stir together. Bury the cheese rinds in the sauce and cover; simmer while you prep everything else.
  2. Spray the inside of a large metal bowl (mine is 13 inches across and 5 inches high) and dust liberally with the breadcrumbs. Cook the pasta sheets one at a time in salted boiling water; carefully lift out and drape them around the bowl, leaving a generous amount overhanging to cover the bottom.
  3. Toss half of the ziti with the béchamel sauce and 1 cup of the Parmigiano cheese and the other half with ⅔ of the ragu. Reserve the rest of the ragu sauce to layer in the Timpano.
  4. Layer the prosciutto slices over the pasta layer, then spoon in the ziti with béchamel sauce, pressing it up the sides into an even layer. Add the meatballs next then cover with the reserved ragu sauce and half of the mozzarella. Lay the basil leaves on top of the cheese
  5. Cover this layer with the ziti in ragu sauce, then ress the eggs into the ziti around the edges of the bowl and layer the remaining mozzarella and Parmigiano cheeses over the top. Fold in the edges of the pasta to create the base of the Timpano and spray with cooking spray.
  6. Bake, covered with foil or a large lid, at 300 degrees until the Timpano reaches an internal temperature of 120 degrees. If you refrigerate the Timpano, be sure to bring it back to room temperature before baking.
  7. When heated through, carefully invert onto a cutting board and gently lift the bowl off. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving with the marinara sauce and cheese.


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