Prep time 3 hours
1 medium sized aubergine
Vegetable oil to fry
125g pork liver, chopped into 1cm cubes 500g mince pork
500g mince beef
Salt and pepper
2 heaped tbsp Mutti Doppio Concentrato Tomato Paste
2 tins Mutti Polpa
2 tbsp sugar
4 fresh bay leaves
2 veal brains (optional but a must in my household)
700g rigatoni rigate
Butter for greasing
800g puff pastry
100g grated Parmareggio Parmesan
Dice the aubergines, skin on, into small 2cm cubes. Place them in a bowl of salted water and leave them to sit for 1 hour. Drain the aubergines, rinse, and dry on a clean kitchen towel. Heat a good amount of oil in a large deep saucepan. Very carefully add the aubergines as they will splatter if still wet. Fry for about 8 minutes, stirring often till golden brown. Add the liver. Stir fry for about 5 minutes to colour well before adding the minced beef and pork. Season well with salt and pepper. Cook till the meat is browned. Do not rush this part of the recipe as it is important for the meat to fry well. If need be, add a little more oil to help the process. In my mothers time they used to use beef lard which gave such a delicious flavour. Add tomato paste and mix in well. Cook for a few minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes. Fill up one of the tins with water, then pour into the second tin to rinse them out. Add this water to the sauce. Add the sugar and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to the lowest possible. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and cool. You can prepare this sauce up to two days before assembling the Timpana. Just keep it chilled in the fridge.
If using, boil the brains in salted water to which you have added a tsp of wine vinegar till cooked. This takes about 10 minutes. Drain them, leave to cool then cut into small pieces. Keep aside. We are now ready to assemble our Timpana.
Butter very well, a 22cm diameter and 15cm deep cake tin. (You may also use a springform tin which will make removal easier). It is important to grease well as otherwise you will find it difficult to turn out the Timpana later on. Place a round piece of baking paper that fits exactly on the bottom of the tin. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface into a large round shape till about 2mm thick then line the greased tin leaving the extra pastry hanging over for now.
Be sure to have your sauce warm but not hot. Remove the bay leaves. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta for half the time indicated on the packet then drain well. Add a layer of pasta to the baking tin till 1⁄3 of the way up. Spoon ragu all over using a tablespoon to help the sauce seep down. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and add 1⁄2 the amount of brain. Add more pasta another of the way up and repeat with sauce, cheese and the rest of the brain if using. To the last layer of pasta just add sauce and cheese to top.
Carefully cut away the extra pastry leaving just enough to be able to pull up a 4cm edge all around the top. We will use the extra pastry to cut out large leaf shapes to decorate the top. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs with milk and season with salt and pepper, and pour the mixture slowly over the pasta giving it time to seep down before adding more. I find using a funnel helps when doing this. Decorate the top with pastry leaves and flowers and brush the pastry with egg wash. Cover lightly with cling film and transfer to the fridge to set overnight.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 190C, 180C fan. Place the Timpana in the centre of the oven and bake for 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave for a good 10 minutes before running a long knife a few times around the edge to loosen from the tin.
Place a large plate upside down on top of the timpana. Bravely and quickly turn it over. The Timpana should glide out of the tin. Peel the baking paper away. Now you need to upturn the Timpana so that the decorated top is visible. This part has caused a few mishaps over the years, but not enough to not do this. Just do it quickly. Obviously the Timpana is then carried triumphantly into the dining room to be served from the side table in front of everybody.
Recipe By Michael Diacono for Served Issue 21
Photography by Julia Ripard
Watch the video with chef Michael Diacono here>>