This is the recipe that I have been dreading since day one of this challenge. I had looked at the title, but not the details of the recipe. All I could think was that I wasn’t brave enough to make a timballo. Now, for those of you that haven’t seen the Stanley Tucci movie, The Big Night, this may seem unreasonable, but a timballo/ timpano was the star dish in the movie, and it’s preparation was enough to drive the two brothers crazy. Their dish contained layers of meats, pasta, and sauce and needed to cook for hours. Luckily, when I finally took the time to read this recipe, I discovered that this dish, while complicated, was not insurmountable.
This dish uses layers of fried mushrooms, fontina cheese, parmigiano-reggiano, and porcini mushrooms cooked with garlic, tomatoes and fresh parsley. All of the ingredients are layered in a soufflé pan and then baked for half an hour. Because of the need to fry the mushrooms before assembling the timballo, this dish can take quite awhile to prepare.
The preparation was worth it though. The flavors melded together so nicely and the presentation was impressive. Michael and I tried a bit of it on the night I prepared it and we were stunned. The fresh fried mushrooms had a clean, firm texture that balanced the richness of the porcini sauce and cheeses. About the time that we finished dinner, my sister called and said that we would be having an impromptu gathering the next day. I managed to squeeze the rest of the timballo back into the soufflé pan and we reheated it for lunch the next day. Everybody loved it. I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t hold up to the reheating, but it did fine. If anything it tasted better, because the flavors had such a long time to mellow.
So, the moral of the story is either don’t judge a recipe by its title, or Marcella Hazan can teach anyone to do the impossible. Actually, I think it might be both!