The Timpano Recipe

How to Make Timpano

Inside look at Timpano.
Timpano makes the perfect centerpiece for your holiday celebrations and special dinners.

Timpano is a symphony of several yummy Italian recipes combined and baked into a delicious golden pastry crust. Almost two decades ago we found a Timpano recipe online. And since then, we experimented with different pastas, meats, sauce ingredients, and cheeses to create our Timpano recipe below.

While our Timpano recipe can be made in one (long) day, we recommend you make most of the components a day in advance. That way you can assemble and bake the second day. Simply store all the parts in your refrigerator until you’re ready to build and bake your Timpano.

And good news – after you fill your Timpano, it’s not uncommon to end up with a few leftover meatballs, chicken, Italian sausage, and pasta. So, this recipe can become the start of other great meals like meatball sandwiches, baked mostacolli with Italian sausage, and more!

Given the size, we often serve Timpano for holidays and parties and usually get around 20 servings.

Timpano Recipe

Timpano consists of several recipes – Ragu, pastry crust, meatballs, lemon-herb chicken, soft-boiled eggs and pasta. Each are cooked separately. After which you assemble everything into the pastry crust and bake.

Everything but the assembly of the Timpano can (and probably should) be made a day in advance.

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Day 1: The Recipes


Time: Approximately 4 1/2 hours


2 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered
6 tbs. flat-leaf Italian parsley
2 stalks celery, washed and roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled
4 oz. pancetta
4 tbs. olive oil
1 to 1-1/2 pound “country-style” pork spare ribs (for flavor)
2 bottles white wine (Or, you can also combine a bottle of white and a bottle of red wine for slightly richer flavor.)
8 oz. tomato paste
56 oz. crushed Italian plum tomatoes (canned)
8 sweet Italian sausages
Keep in mind: If you want extra sauce for assembly or to serve alongside the Timpano later, consider adding an extra can (28 ounces) of tomatoes and more wine (1 cup).

  1. Put the loosely chopped onion, celery, carrot, garlic, pancetta and parsley in a food processor and pulse about 10 times for one second each pulse (or chop finely).
  2. Heat a large pot over medium heat (We use a 15-quart Dutch oven).
  3. Heat the olive oil in the pot.
  4. Add the chopped vegetable/pancetta mixture (also known as battuto) to the pot.
  5. Lower the heat and sauté the battuto for 10-15 minutes or until soften and browned very lightly
  6. Add the pork ribs, cover the pot and cook over low heat for one hour.
  7. At the end of the hour, uncover the pot, raise the heat to high and add the wine.
  8. Allow the wine to boil for a minute or two to burn off the alcohol.
  9. Lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer uncovered gently for about an hour.
  10. Remove the ribs. (The ribs have great flavor so eat them for a snack or meal.)
  11. Whisk in the tomato paste.
  12. Add the plum tomatoes and stir, breaking up the tomatoes, to combine with the wine reduction and tomato paste.
  13. Add the Italian sausages.
  14. Cover the pot and cook over low heat for 90 minutes.
  15. At the end of the 90 minutes, remove the Italian sausages and reserve for the Timpano.
  16. Cover the pot and reserve the Ragu for the Timpano.

Pastry Crust

Time: 30 minutes, stored overnight and approximately 1/2 hour of rolling out


6 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) frozen, unsalted butter, cut into 1 tbs. pieces
3/4 tsp. salt
6 large eggs

  1. Combine the flour, butter, and salt in the bowl of a mixing machine and stir to combine the ingredients.
  2. Add the eggs and run the mixing machine steadily until a ball forms and just begins to clean the sides of the bowl.
  3. Continue kneading with your hands.
    • If the dough seems too soft, add 1 to 2 tbs. flour and run the machine for five seconds to recombine the mixture.
    • If the dough seems too dry, add 1 to 2 tbs. ice water and do the same.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 pieces approximately 75% (for the bottom crust) and 25% (for the top).
  5. Shape the two dough pieces into discs and cover each with plastic wrap and place overnight in the refrigerator. (If you aren’t storing overnight, chill the crusts in the refrigerator for at least two hours.)

Soft-Boiled Eggs

Time: 25 minutes


6 large eggs


The goal is to get the egg yolk to have a molasses-like consistency; not to have the yolk become hard-boiled or too runny. And, to make this step easier, we recommend using a silicone cooking mesh.

  1. Bring eggs close to room temperature. (This step is important because it will help prevent them from cracking when you put them into the boiling water.)
  2. Bring water to boil.
  3. Carefully place the eggs into the water and cook for 6 1/2 minutes.
  4. Drain the hot water and replace with cool water.
  5. Once the eggs are cool, peel the shell off. Leave the soft-boiled eggs whole and reserve for the Timpano.


Meatballs from our Timpano recipe.
Meatballs from our Timpano recipe

Time: 30 minutes

The goal is to get about 24 golf-ball sized meatballs.


1 lb. ground beef
2 large eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
8 tbs. flat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
1-½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

  1. Mix together the ground beef, eggs, and bread crumbs.
  2. Mix in the garlic, parsley, and Parmigiano.
  3. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  4. Form the ground beef mixture into golf-ball size balls.
  5. Heat a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  6. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan to a depth of about 1/4 inch.
  7. Add several meatballs and sauté, regulating the heat if necessary to avoid excessive spattering.
  8. The meatballs are done when they’re brown all over and have a slight crust.
  9. Remove and drain on paper towels.
  10. Repeat until all meatballs are done. Reserve for the Timpano.

Chicken Breasts

From our Timpano recipe, the lemon chicken with shallots and parsley
Lemon chicken with shallots and parsley is a tasty part of our Timpano recipe

Time: Approximately 1/2 hour

The goal is a chicken breast that is about ¾ inches thick. Unless the chicken breasts are already thin, you may want to cut them horizontally to make them thinner before starting this recipe.


4 tbs. unsalted butter
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
4 chicken breasts, no skin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine (Keep the bottle nearby though because sometimes the sauce requires more liquid)
Zest from a lemon
Juice from a lemon
8 tbs. flat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped

  1. Salt and pepper the chicken.
  2. Zest the whole lemon and finely chop the zest.
  3. Juice the lemon, removing any seeds. (Lemon pulp is OK.)
  4. Heat a large non-nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the butter and let it melt and any foam subside.
  6. Add the salt-and-peppered chicken breasts and shallots into the pan. To prevent the shallots from cooking too fast, keep them piled on the side.
  7. Flip the chicken breasts when the corners turn white.
  8. Once the chicken breasts are nearly cooked, begin to spread the shallots around to brown them up.
  9. Once the chicken breasts are finished, remove them.
  10. Increase the heat to the pan to high, add the wine, and boil for a minute or two to burn off the alcohol.
  11. Reduce the heat to medium.
  12. Add the lemon juice and parsley.
  13. Allow the liquid to bubble until it reduces to a slightly thickened sauce.
  14. Reserve the cooked chicken breast with the sauce.

Day 2: The Assembly

Some of the ingredients from our Timpano recipe: Ragu, crust, Italian sausage, soft-boiled eggs, chicken, meatballs, mozzarella cheese
After preparing the ingredients from the Timpano recipe, you’re ready to assemble.

Time: Prep work takes approximately 1 hour. Baking takes approximately 1-1/2+ hours. Resting can take up to 2 hours


1 Lb. penne rigate or ziti
2 Lbs. fresh whole mozzarella
10 cups shredded mozzarella
Freshly grated Parmigiano

  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil for the pasta.
  2. Cook the penne (or ziti) until al dente.
  3. Drain the cooked pasta in a colander, cool with cold water and reserve. (Try drizzling a couple drops of olive oil onto the noodles to prevent them from sticking.)
  4. Prepare the other cooked ingredients necessary for assembly. (To save time, you can do this while cooking the pasta.)
    a. Cut the chicken breasts lengthwise into ½- to 1-inch strips.
    b. Cut the Italian sausages lengthwise in half.
    c. Cut the whole mozzarella into 1-inch cubes. (Some brands come pre-cut, which can save a little time.)
    d. Cut the meatballs in half, depending on size. (Typically we cut ours in half so that they are about the same height as the other meats when assembling a layer.)
    e. If desired, you can create an egg wash for the crust.
    f. Set all of your prepped ingredients aside while you roll out the crust.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Remove the larger portion of the pastry crust from the refrigerator to form the bottom crust for the Timpano.
  7. Lightly flour a board or your countertop.
  8. Roll out the pastry into a rough circle large enough to fit the inside of the 8- to 10-quart Timpano bowl – plus extra allowance to crimp over and attach to the top crust.
  9. Cover the rolled-out pastry loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  10. Remove the smaller portion of the pastry crust from the refrigerator.
  11. Roll out the pastry into a rough circle to fit the top of the Timpano bowl.
  12. Cover the rolled-out pastry loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  13. Keep both rolled-out pastries in the refrigerator for 35-40 minutes so that they chill and get firmer.
  14. Heavily grease the inside of the Timpano bowl. (We prefer Crisco and use lots of it.)
  15. Place the rolled-out bottom pastry crust into the Timpano bowl, carefully pressing all around to flatten the bottom, and gently pressing the dough up the sides of the bowl.
  16. Fill the Timpano in layer by layer until you reach the top. (See The Structure below for how to layer the prepped ingredients). Be sure you do not crown the Timpano otherwise when you flip it upside down, the bottom can flatten and tear from the sides.
The Structure

First, it is essential that the pastry doesn’t collapse when it comes out of the Timpano bowl because of its size. And how the ingredients go into the bowl will determine its “structure” to support itself.

Remember, the Timpano is built upside down and the Timpano bowl will be flipped upside down at the end. Therefore, the least “structural” items, e.g., pasta, should go in the bottom of the pan when assembled so that they end up at the top when flipped over. It is OK to have pasta in the middle as well, but not as a whole layer. Try surrounding it with more structural solid items, such as the Italian sausage or chicken. Layer the Italian sausage, chicken, and meatballs toward the middle and top of the Timpano bowl so that, when the Timpano is flipped over, they are the base of the structure providing a solidly built foundation.

The key to our Timpano recipe is building the layers in circles, as seen here starting with meatballs, eggs, chicken, sausage and cheese.
Tip: Building the Timpano layers in circles ensures that, when you slice it later, you’ll get a little bit of everything in each piece.

Second, the Timpano should look eloquent when sliced with each of the ingredients in every slice. So, when placing the sausage, chicken, meatballs, and eggs into the Timpano bowl, be sure to make rings around the pan so that when the assembly is sliced into pie wedges for serving, you will be cutting across the rings. In this way, each slice will have a part of every layer and all the ingredients.

Be sure to add sauce and liberal amounts of shredded mozzarella cheese between layers. The sauce will help keep the Timpano moist. And, the shredded mozzarella cheese will help bind everything together. We recommend having extra shredded mozzarella cheese on hand to ensure you have enough to bind everything together.

And, after each cheese layer, press down on the cheese to work any trapped air out. It’s OK if some of the sauce seeps through the cheese. Removing the air helps make a more solid “structure”.

The remaining assembly steps are general assembly instructions based on what’s worked best for us over the years:

  1. Place a layer of pasta in the bottom of the pastry shell.
  2. Spread some Ragu and shredded mozzarella on top, so that when it melts it holds the pasta together.
  3. Arrange in concentric circles some of the sausages, meatballs, chicken breasts, soft-boiled eggs, and fresh mozzarella pieces.
  4. Pour the extra sauce from the chicken breasts across the chicken pieces. (This will provide wonderful flavor.)
  5. Sprinkle the layer with freshly grated Parmigiano.
  6. Spread some Ragu and shredded mozzarella on top and press the air out.
  7. Repeat the process. With each layer, rotate the circles of meat so that, when sliced, like meats are not stacked on top of each other.
  8. Do not crown the Timpano. The ingredients should lay flat and even. If the Timpano is crowned, then when you flip it upside down after baking, the bottom may flatten causing the sides to tear apart.
  9. Remove the top pastry crust from the refrigerator.
  10. Place on top of the Timpano.
  11. Pinch the top and bottom pastry crusts together with your fingers and fold so that it is all inside the Timpano bowl.
  12. Trim any excess edges with a paring knife or scissors.
  13. Make three 1-inch slits in the top crust to vent steam during the cooking process. (Avoid making larger slits because it can harm the structure when flipped.)
  14. Place the Timpano bowl in the center of the pre-heated oven and bake.
  15. Bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours. For the first hour of baking, cover with tinfoil to prevent the top crust from browning too quickly.
  16. When the pastry crust is well browned, the ingredients thoroughly heated, and the cheese melted, remove from the oven.
  17. Rest the Timpano for up to 2 hours, allowing the inside layers to set.
Fresh from the oven, the Timpano crust is golden brown and you can see the melted cheese through the air holes.
Tip: Fresh out of the oven, it’s important to let your Timpano cool before separating from the bowl.

Uncovering the Timpano
  1. Place a large serving tray or cutting board over the top of the Timpano bowl.
  2. Carefully flip the tray and bowl upside down and put on the counter.
  3. Gently remove the Timpano bowl. (If you greased the Timpano bowl enough, it should release easily.)
Before slicing into the Timpano, let it rest uncovered for at least an hour.
A beautiful Timpano resting

Use this handy shopping list for our Timpano recipe.

And then get organized before you start cooking the Timpano recipe with our kitchen tools list.