Cabbage Rolls Made Easy

My thoughts automatically turn to my new Instant Pot these days.  Often it is to re-visit old favorites like stuffed cabbage rolls, and tinker with how to best incorporate them into my new cooking repertoire.

This stuffed cabbage recipe was shared many years ago by a good Polish friend, who received it from his mother.  Since he was not a cook, he was so appreciative when I would prepare his beloved Goblaki, it was always reason for a party.

Golabki

When the mood strikes, I still make stuffed cabbage rolls for their homey, sweet/sour qualities. They are even better reheated the next day.  There are a few steps, but none are complicated.  I actually find the repetition of filling and shaping the rolls very relaxing—I like to think of it as a form of meditation.

Here, the slow cooker steps in to deliver all the classic aromas and flavors and cooks in about the same oven time.  There is little mess. The blanching of the leaves is done in the same cooking pot. My current version cuts back on the ground beef and contains part turkey, which doesn’t seem to make a difference in overall taste.

Enjoy the rolls with Barley-Mushroom Risotto, a perfect companion.  Here’s to you, Joe!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, aka Golabki

Ingredients
1        large head cabbage
Filling
3/4     pound ground beef
3/4     pound ground turkey
1/3     cup raw converted rice
1/2     cup onion, dice
1/2     cup celery, dice
1         clove garlic, crush
1         teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2     teaspoon pepper, to taste
Sauce
1       28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2    teaspoon dried dill, plus more for the pot
salt and red pepper flakes, to taste
1        tablespoons brown sugar, approximate
2        tablespoons cider vinegar
1/3    cup raisins (optional)

Directions

  1. To blanch the cabbage leaves:  gently separate the cabbage leaves and rinse well.  Layer leaves in pressure cooker. Set pressure element to Low, and steam the leaves for 1 minute with fast release.  Carefully remove and place in an ice water bath to stop the cooking.  Drain on toweling and set aside.
  2. Place a few unusable leaves in the bottom of the pot, add a bit of available sliced onion, add a light sprinkling of dill, salt and pepper.
  3. To make cabbage rolls:  combine filling items.  Place a heaping tablespoonful of stuffing at largest end of leaf, roll and fold sides in.  Repeat.
  4. For assembly:  combine sauce ingredients and spoon 1/3 of the sauce into bottom of pot.  Place a layer of rolls close together, seam side down, into the pot. Top with another 1/3 of sauce.  Add another layer of rolls and finish with remaining sauce.
  5. Set slow cooker to Medium setting for approximately 2-1/2 hours.  Note: begin on medium setting, cook for 1-1/2 hours. and check.  If not simmering at this point, increase to High for the additional hour.  Can also be cooked on Low setting for 6 hours or longer.  Yield: about 12 rolls.
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Jerk Pork: it’s grill time!

It’s summertime and the living is stunningly easy here on the homestead.  Especially now that I have finally located another folding grill!  What was once called the Pyromid has resurfaced under the new name of EcoQue, and I couldn’t be happier.  This unique stainless steel grill not only folds neatly into its own 2” thick tote for easy storage, it produces temperatures close to 900 degrees on its 12” surface with only 9 charcoal briquettes.

I apologize, I did not intend the post to become a sales pitch for this adorable grill, but I guess I can’t help myself. I am utterly thrilled that it hasn’t completely disappeared!  With the new grill at hand, my first order of business was to grill off a little celebratory jerk pork.

Jerk Pork

Jerk Pork

This popular Bahamian marinade makes anything taste better.  It’s wonderful hot off the grill on chicken, fish, beef, or pork and it is even better the next day. Jerk meats remain so moist and flavorful they are ideal for picnics and travel. Today, I’m cooking a thick chunk of pork but 3 to 4 pounds of chicken or beef will work just as well.

Jerk Pork, Chicken, or Beef

Ingredients
3 – 4 lb.  pork, chicken or beef ribs
Jerk Marinade
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg and cinnamon
3 tablespoons fresh thyme
1/2 cup green onions, chop
1 clove garlic, minced
4 scotch bonnet chiles, or jalapeno peppers, seed
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt

Directions

  1. For marinade: place all ingredients in blender and puree for 2 minutes.
  2. Massage the meat well with the marinade and marinate several house or overnight.  Any extra marinade can be reserved for dipping if not used for brushing the meat on the grill.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium-low heat.  Drain and pat the meat dry.  Brush the grill with oil.  Grill, turning and brushing with marinade as needed until nicely browned all over and pork reaches an internal temperature of 160°, beef is between 145-160°, and chicken reaches 165°.

 

 

Remembrances and Machaca con Huevos

Although Halloween is not one of those days I normally get all excited about, it does serve as a more important reminder that the Day of the Dead is coming.

In Mexico, the first three days of November mark an annual opportunity to collectively pay tribute to departed loved ones.  There are plenty of scary skeletons and macabre figures too, but food plays the dominant role in unfolding events. Personal mementos, gifts, and favorite foods of the dead are prominently displayed and left at special altars and graveside sites.

Pan de Muertos

Pan de Muertos

During Dia del los Muertos it is not uncommon to participate in celebratory meals ranging from carefully planned picnics to elaborate family feasts replete with the deceased’s favorite foods — at the cemetery.

We had our own Day of the Dead brunch today.  We gathered around the table and fondly remembered our deceased family patriarch, Gene Graven, who dearly loved Mexico. In his honor, we prepared Machaca con Huevos with warm tortillas and salsa, plenty of refried beans, fresh melon, Day of the Dead bread, and Mexican whipped hot chocolate.

This was a first at preparing machaca with eggs; thanks to a very helpful Huffington Post piece by Stephen Chavez and Art Rodriquez we were all pretty impressed with the outcome.

Machacado most likely originated in northern Mexico, predominantly Sonora, where early cattlemen would dry beef into jerky, or carne seca, for longer preservation over the winter.  Machaca con Huevos, one of their most famous dishes, calls for adding shredded or partially ground up carne seca to sautéed onions to reconstitute it.  Chiles or other peppers, garlic, and/or tomatoes may be added to taste; it is then scrambled with beaten eggs and served with tortillas.

Machaca con Huevos

Machaca con Huevos

Machaca con Huevos
Inspired by Huffington Post’s Machaca con Huevos by Stephen Chavez and Art Rodriquez

 Ingredients
1 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 Tbsp butter, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 – 2 oz pkgs carne seca, shredded dried beef
½ tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
2 Serrano chile peppers, seeded and minced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
8 large eggs
2 Tbsp milk
Additional:  Pico de Gallo,  cilantro

Instructions

  • In a large frying skillet over medium heat, heat a combination of 1 Tbsp oil and butter; when hot sauté the onions until translucent, about three minutes. Add the garlic, stir until aromatic, about 1 minute.
  • Add the carne seca and enough remaining oil and butter to moisten; allow it to cook slowly until it begins to soften and darkens slightly, about 5 minutes. Add oregano and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add the peppers, cook until they begin to soften but are still bright green, about 5 minutes.
  • Beat the eggs with the milk, salt and pepper and add to the pan; gently stir and lift the eggs up from the bottom of the pan to allow uncooked eggs to flow under.
  • As the eggs begin to form curds add the tomatoes; stir gently to break up large curds and eggs set but are still moist.
  • Garnish with cilantro.  Serve with favorite salsa or Pico de Gallo, refried beans and flour tortillas. Serves 6
chocolate (1)

Mexican Chocolate Disk

For Mexican Hot Chocolate:  In jar of blender place 1 tablet Mexican Chocolate*, 4 cups hot milk, and a splash of vanilla.  Blend until frothy.

*Note:  My 2 oz Mexican chocolate discs from La Michoacana include chocolate, sugar and cinnamon.

 

Moussaka’s Béchamel: heart of the matter

Just because moussaka is made in a dish and baked in the oven, it’s a travesty to classify this glorious creation as only a family casserole.  In the truest sense it is just that, though—one big dish made with  familiar ingredients found lying around any imageswell-stocked Greek kitchen, like eggplant, lamb, and a world class béchamel sauce.

Although the béchamel’s roots are classically French, the Greeks adopted their own version of this masterful sauce and never looked back.  The traditional béchamel sauce made with milk and a roux for thickening does not contain eggs, but Greek versions are known to frequently include egg yolks or whole eggs.

The addition of eggs to their beloved bessamel, creates a thick, creamy sauce substantial enough for layering or topping dishes such as moussaka or pastitsio.  Depending on who is cooking, the béchamel sauce may appear in any number of places in the moussaka:  on the bottom of it, in the middle and/or on the top.  Wherever it is placed, it plays a predominant role in balancing these big flavors and textures.

There are several steps to this hearty moussaka, but none are complicated.  The vegetables are baked off in the oven—which allows plenty of time to cook the meat sauce and prepare the béchamel.

moussaka edit 2For the béchamel, I prefer a lighter sauce made with butter cut with olive oil.  Flour is stirred into this heated mixture and slowly cooked to created a roux, the basis of the sauce.   Milk is then added to the roux, which  magically thickens the milk as it heats.  The  addition of eggs further thickens and creates a rich supple sauce.  A bit of grated cheese, a touch salt, white pepper and nutmeg provide dimension and round out the flavors.

To assemble the moussaka, a preliminary coating of bread crumbs sprinkled into the baking dish will help to absorb any excess liquid and bind with the potatoes to create a cohesive bottom for easier portioning.

The completed dish can be made ahead, covered with foil, refrigerated, and baked later.  For best result, be sure to allow extra time for the moussaka to rest before cutting it.   Serve with orzo and a field green salad tossed with cucumbers, tomatoes and onions.

Moussaka 

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, approx.
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 medium eggplant, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into about 1/2″ thick slices
  • 1 to 1 ½ lb. Yukon gold or red potatoes, if large halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2″ thick

Tomato-Meat Sauce

  •  2 tsp olive oil
  •  1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  •  3 cloves garlic, crushed
  •  1 lb. lean ground lamb or beef
  •  1 tsp oregano
  •  1/4 tsp cinnamon
  •  1/8 tsp allspice
  •  1 bay leaf
  •  salt and pepper
  •  1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  •  2 tbsp tomato paste

Béchamel Sauce

  •  2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  •  3 cups milk
  •  1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  •  1/4 tsp nutmeg
  •  1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  •  2 eggs, lighten beaten and warmed with 2 tbsp of the hot sauce

   Bottom Coating:  1 cup dried bread crumbs
   Cheese Topping:  1 cup grated Kefalotiri cheese or crumbled Greek feta

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Slice the eggplant, lightly salt it and allow it to drain in strainer for 10-15 minutes.  Blot dry with toweling and layer in rows on oiled baking sheet.  Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and, drizzle lightly with olive oil and bake in 425 degree oven until they begin to brown slightly, 30- 40 minutes.
  3. Slice potatoes and place on oiled baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and bake at 425 degrees until they begin to brown, 30 – 40 minutes.
  4. For the tomato-meat sauce, sauté onion and garlic over low heat in oil.  Add the meat and cook until it turns color, drain any excessive liquid or fat.  Add the herbs, spices, salt and pepper and cook until meat begins to brown.  Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste, bring to a simmer, reduce heat and cook slightly covered 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Adjust seasoning.
  5. For béchamel sauce, heat olive oil and butter in saucepan, stir in the flour and cook over low heat for about 3 minutes, until smooth and thick.  Pour in the milk, whisking to avoid lumps.  Cook over medium low heat, whisking until it smooth, thick, and flavors have soften, about 10 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, and slowly pour in a few tablespoons of the hot sauce to temper eggs and avoid curdling.  Remove sauce from the heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese and the warmed egg mixture; whisk until silky and smooth.  Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.   Briefly return to heat, whisking until well heated; adjust seasoning.
  6. To finish the moussaka preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Oil a 9×13″ pan or a gratin dish and sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over bottom.  Next, layer all the potatoes into the dish; cover them with half of the meat sauce.  Layer the eggplant on top and smooth the remaining meat sauce over the eggplant.  Carefully spoon the béchamel over the top and sprinkle it with cheese.  Cover the dish with foil and bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes.  Remove foil and bake until the top is bubbly and begins to brown, 55 to 60 minutes total.
  7. Let the moussaka rest 20 minutes before cutting. Yield:  8 servings.

Winter Pho Soup

Like much of the country, we’ve been hunkering down in absolutely frigid temperatures, facing daily threads of ice storms.  Parents don’t know what to plan from one day to the next since school closures come early in the morning with the slightest inkling of risk.

It hasn’t stopped me from getting out and exploring the Austin area.

On my latest foray to the Asian Market  at the Chinatown Center  I stocked up on all sorts of long missed spoils.  Browsing the aisles I found my favorite mushroom soy sauce and Chinkiang vinegar, a wonderful black rice vinegar.

The produce section displayed a stack of plump baby bok choy, bags of crisp mung bean sprouts, and a stunning mound of fresh shiitake mushrooms. When I spotted oxtails in the meat case, I knew that it was time for some serious soup making and nothing pleased me more than the idea of a steamy bowl of Pho.

pho union sq blog

There was a whole shelf of various types of pho seasonings and I opted for a box with disposable bags, reminiscent of the sort I enjoyed while in Miami. Pho condiments IMG_1215

A day ahead, I cooked and chilled the incredibly simple Oxtail Soup stock (included below).  The kitchen smelled delicious as it simmered away on the back of the stove, and in less than two hours I had an effortless, rich, and flavorful stock.

This soup takes no time to assemble.  I took Ming Tsai’s suggestion from Blue Ginger, and made a refreshing salad with bean sprouts and herbs to further season the soup.  Although rice sticks are the preferred noodle, we had a good supply of fresh somen noodles on hand that worked out fine and only needed a moment to be warmed in the hot soup.   We also had grilled beef left from our Super Bowl Summer Roll Spree which proved a tasty topping for our hot bowls filled with steamy Pho soup.

Pho, Vietnamese Beef-Noodle Soup with Vegetables

 Ingredients 

Soup Base 

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced lengthwise
  • 2 serrano chili peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced at an angle
  • 5 oz. shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced (2 cups)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • 8 cups rich beef or oxtail stock
  • 1 bag Pho seasoning or in a cheesecloth bag: 6 whole cloves, 2 star anise, and 1 cinnamon stick

Soup Additions

  •  6 to 8 oz. rice stick noodles
  • 1½  lb. baby bok choy, cut in half lengthwise
  • 8 oz. lean raw tender beef, thinly sliced (tenderloin, sirloin, etc.)

Bean Sprout Salad

  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup Thai basil leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup mint, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce   (nam pla)
  • 2 limes, juice

Additional garnishes:  sliced serrano peppers, basil or mint leaves, sesame oil, lime wedges, fish or sriracha sauce.

Directions

  1. For the soup base:  in a soup pot, sauté the oil with the ginger and garlic until aromatic;  add the onions and toss to soften, then add the peppers, the carrots, the mushrooms, and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Add the reserved beef,  soy sauce, the stock, and the pho seasoning.  Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the stock is well flavored with the seasoning.
  2.  Meanwhile, soak the rice stick noodles in warm water for about 20 minutes.
  3.  For the Beans Sprout Salad, just before serving, combine the bean sprouts with the herbs and onions.  Combine the fish sauce and the limes toss the salad lightly.
  4.  To finish the soup, remove the pho seasoning bag, add the bok choy;  simmer briefly, until the base of the bok choy is barely tender, 1-2 minutes.  Add the rice noodles to warm them.
  5.  On the table, include additional sliced serrano peppers, basil or mint leaves, sesame oil, lime wedges, fish, soy, or sriracha sauce.
  6.  To serve, arrange bean sprouts in wide bowls, add a ladle of hot soup including noodles and vegetables, lay a few slices of beef on top, and finish with a favorite condiments.

Easy Oxtail Stock

  • 1 ½ – 2 lbs. oxtail, sections, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 medium onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 ribs celery
  • salt to taste

Bring oxtail to a boil in about 8 cups water.  Remove the brown scum that floats to the top and continue simmer for 1 hour.  Add onion, cook ½ hour; add celery and cook 15 minutes longer; salt to taste.  Strain the liquid, reserve the oxtails and chill well.  When cold, the stock will be thick and gelatinous; remove the layer of fat on stop. Pick the meat from the bones and reserve for soup, if desired.

Super Bowl: On a roll with Summer Rolls

bowls and sticks IMG_1189This past Super Bowl Sunday we veered away from the endless offerings of chips, dips, greasy snack foods, chili and other heavy hitters, and headed off in an entirely new direction.

Instead, we merrily rolled down the path of make-your-own Summer Rolls.

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Unlike the Super Bowl, everyone was happy.  This turned out to be a genius plan since the Summer Rolls were light yet satisfying and readily available whenever the urge struck.

The entire spread was fairly easy to assemble, since it was mostly fresh salad ingredients that required no cooking. rolls sauces IMG_1190 Lettuce, carrots, avocado, mint, cilantro, and basil were sliced and shredded ahead and placed in bowls.

A day ahead, we went to our local Asian market to pick-up packaged pre-cut thinly sliced lean beef along with  a couple pounds of fresh shrimp for a quick blast of heat on the grill.

There were plenty of condiments to satisfy individual tastes including wasabi,  soy sauce, sesame seeds, and a couple of  dipping sauces:  a hoisin flavored peanut sauce and a lighter Sriracha (hot chili-garlic sauce) blended with Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese fish sauce).

We also had pre-softened and drained rice noodles on hand, but vermicelli noodles are another popular alternative.

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We even had a funky rice paper holder replete with its own water bath.  You simply dip the dry rice paper in the water tank, give it a quick spin, and in no time it’s a softened skin, ready to roll.  No muss, no fuss.

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There was a grill station set up for each person to grill their own slices of beef/and or shrimp to order.

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The good news is that kids of all ages love to create their own rolls and they even seem to include plenty of salad fixings without flinching.

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Timpano Weekend

51DY0ZGXDVL._SY300_[1]It was a timpano weekend; just a few relaxed days and a nice meal with visiting friends.

For those who have missed Stanley Tucci’s movie, The Big Night, the glorious timpano could be considered one of the cast of colorful characters in this heartfelt food tale.  Two brothers go all out with one final feast in a last ditch effort to save their failing Italian restaurant.

The timpano, a traditional Italian dish revered back in the brothers’ hometown, is a mammoth “pie” of sorts named after the large drum-like pan it is assembled and baked in.  The outer crust is a layer of pasta which bakes into a tender-crisp envelope that seals layers of ziti bound with ragu along with cubes of Genoa salami and sharp Provolone cheese, wedges of hard-cooked egg, small savory meatballs and a dusting of grated pecorino Romano.

???????????????????????????????The idea of using pasta dough for a  crust was a bit daunting at first, but once launched, we found it definitely inspired.

The dough is easy to work, quite malleable, and certainly the right agent to stand-up to the task of holding an enormous quantity of food without falling apart or becoming soggy.  Bread or pie dough would have been  unnecessary additions in this mélange of rich and robust heavyweights.

Tucci offers the entire recipe in his cookbook, The Tucci Cookbook, and it is well worth checking out.  The ragu is not to be missed and surely the backbone of this monument.  Tomatoes simmer with chunks of beef and country-style spareribs into a flavorful sauce that creates the essential component upon which all other ingredients will later support and complement.  At service, the meats and remaining sauce are served on the side as an additional accompaniment.

We broke this project down into a set of specific tasks.  A couple of days ahead, we started the sauce, allowed it to cool, and then refrigerated it.  The meatballs and hard-cooked eggs were made the following day.  Cubing and grating were done prior as well.

When it came to pulling it all together, we mixed the dough in our standing mixer and proceeded to roll it out.  Instead of one huge timpano, we opted to use two smaller 13” metal mixing bowls for our pans.  We agreed it made the challenge of assembling the humungous timpano far more manageable.

Given our best efforts, one timpano was far more than 7 of us could possibly polish off in one sitting.  We didn’t even cut into the second one, and froze it for a later time.

Timpano view reduxIn the movie The Big Night, the timpano is featured as part of an amazing series of courses including a stuffed pig―which leaves everyone literally gasping for air.

For our big night, we were utterly undone by a light antipasto, plenty of fresh bread, a lightly dressed green salad, and the glorious timpano.

Quite the culinary distraction.

 Timpano, alla  ‘Big Night’

Inspired by Stanley Tucci’s version from The Tucci Cookbook 

Ragu Sauce

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 lb. stewing beef, trimmed, rinsed, patted dry, cut into pieces
  • 1 lb. country-style spareribs, cut in half, trimmed of fat, rinsed at patted dry
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 ½ cups warm water, divided
  • 8 cups whole plum tomatoes, or 2 – 35 oz. cans, passed through food mill
  • 3 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp. fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried
  1. Warm the olive oil in a stew pot set over medium-high heat.  Sear beef 10 minutes until brown on all sides and set aside.  Add spareribs to pot, sear 10 minutes till brown on all sides, remove and add to beef.
  2. Stir in onions and garlic; reduce heat and cook 5 minutes until softened.  Stir in wine and scrape bottom of pot.  Add tomato paste.  Pour ½ cup water into can to rinse and pour into the pot.  Cook  2 minutes to warm through.  Add tomatoes along 1 cup warm water.  Stir in basil and oregano.  Cook with lid slightly ajar and simmer 30 minutes.
  3. Return meat to pot, along with juices; loosely cover with lid and simmer 2 hours until meat is tender and tomatoes are cooked; stir occasionally.  If too thick, add warm water as needed to sauce.

Little Meatballs

  • 10 slices Italian bread, 1” thick, dried
  • 1 lb. ground chuck beef
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 tbsp. pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  1. Soak dry bread in warm water to cover for about 5 minutes, until bread softens.
  2. In another bowl, combine beef, parsley, garlic, egg, cheese, salt and pepper; using hands mix well.  Remove and discard any crust from bread; work this into the meat until well combined and mixture holds together in a soft dough.
  3. In large frying pan, over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.  Using ½ tsp. scoop, form ½ inch balls and roll between palms to for balls.  As  a test, cook 1 meatball browning on all sides, for about 6 minutes.  Taste, adjust seasoning and proceed cooking in batches until all are cooked, 6 to 8 minutes, and set aside.

The Dough

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  •  4 large eggs
  •  1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Butter and Olive Oil to prepare the pan
  1. For dough, place flour, eggs, salt and olive oil in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Add 3 tbsps. olive oil, the water, 1 tbsp. at a time, up to ½ cup, until mixture come together and forms a ball.
  2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead to make certain it is well blended and supple.  Allow to rest 5 minutes.
  3. Flatten the dough and dust top with flour and roll it out, flipping and dusting from time to time, until it is 1/16inch thick and it is the desired diameter.
  4. Generously butter and oil the timpano baking pan.
  5.   Fold dough in half, then in half again, to form a triangle, and place it in the pan.  Open the dough and arrange it in the pan, gently pressing it against the bottom and the sides, draping the extra dough over the sides, allowing enough to come together and seal the center.

The Filling

  • 2 cups Genoa salami, cut into 1/4 x 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups sharp Provolone cheese, cut in 1/4 x 1/2-inch pieces
  • 12 hard-boiled eggs, shelled, quartered lengthwise and then each quarter cut in half to create chunks
  • 2 cups little meatballs about 1″ diameter (see)
  • 3 pounds, ziti, cooked very al dente (about half the time recommended on the package)
  • 2/3 cup finely grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 4 large eggs, beaten

To assemble and serve the timpano

  1. Cook the pasta until very al dente, about ½ the normal cooking time; drain it, toss with olive oil and 2 cups ragu.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Have the salami, provolone, hard-boiled eggs, meatballs and thinned ragu at room temperature.
  4. Distribute 6 cups of the pasta on the bottom of the pompano.  Top with 1 cup salami, 1 cup Provolone cheese, 6 hard-boiled eggs, 1 cup meatballs, and 1/3 cup Romano cheese.  Pour 2 cups ragu over these ingredients.
  5. Top with 6 cups pasta.  Top with 1 cup salami, 1 cup provolone, 6 hard-boiled eggs, 1 cup meatballs, and 1/3 cup Romano cheese.  Pour 2 cups ragu over these ingredients. Top with 6 cups pasta (the ingredients should be about 1” below rim of pan).  Spoon 2 cups  ragu over the pasta.  Pour beaten eggs over filling.  Fold pasta dough over filling to seal completely and trim away and discard any double layers of dough.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, until lightly browned.  Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes longer, until timpano is golden brown and internal temperature is 120 degrees.  Remove from oven and allow to rest at least 30 minutes.
  7. The baked timpano should not adhere to pan, but if any part is still attached carefully detach with a knife.  Grasp pan firmly and invert timpano onto serving platter.  Remove pan and allow to cool another 20 minutes.
  8. Using a long, sharp knife, cut a circle about 3 inches in diameter in the center of the timpano, making sure to cut all the way through t the bottom (like cutting a wedding cake).  Then slice the timpano as you would a pie into individual portions, leaving the center circle as a support for the remaining pieces.  Makes 16 servings.    Serve remaining ragu and meats on the side.