Montalbano Timballo

Not too long ago I published my summer reading list

Among all my books there was Camilleri‘s latest book about “Commissario Montalbano“. His books generated a very successful TV series about the adventures of this Police Chief from an idillic town in Sicily and his passion for good food.

His books are translated into English and so were the TV series.

In the last book, Salvo’s faithful maid & cook Adelina prepares for him a “Timballo in crosta.

Montalbano had a guest that evening and for a few pages we have a description of how much the two of them enjoy the Timballo, breaking the crust and relish on the good things that Adelina had filled in.

Therefore I decided to enjoy such wonder myself. I had a couple of guest in the house and I thought it was a good occasion to make a timballo.

Practically Timbale is a short-type pasta, meat sauce, peas, and cheese all inside a crust of short pastry.

The recipe is tiring and a bit long, but it is absolutely worth it. In its favor, the fact that most of the ingredients can be prepared the day before and that the same timbale can be done with peace of mind hours in advance. It is sumptuous … rich, fragrant, … suitable for real special occasions for guests you really want to impress. Just the way Salvo Montalbano was impressing the young lady he was sharing the Timbale with.

These are the ingredients:

For the Filling:

• 1 pound Anelletti pasta or another short cut pasta that you prefer (I chose maccheroni)

• 150 grams of caciocavallo or diced spicy provolone (some recipies call for mozzarella, but mozzarella is rather watery and I preferred to use the provolone cheese)

• 1 1/2 pounds mixed chopped meats (veal, pork and beef)

• 28 ounces chopped tomatoes

• 2 cups peas

• 1/2 cup white wine

• 2 bay leaves

• 2 tablespoons fresh parsley

• peperoncino – hot pepper

• salt

• 5 cloves garlic, chopped finely

• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

• olive oil for frying

I would buy the crust ready (I did!) rather than prepare it at home. It saves a lot of time.

Make the Meat Sauce:

1. Add 3 Tbs of EV olive oil in a pot followed by the garlic. Once the garlic turns blonde, add the chopped meat.

2. Let the meat brown and add the white wine.

3. Let the alcohol evaporate and add the bay leaves to be removed once the sauce has cooked and cooled off.

4. Add salt and Peperoncino (optional), as desired, and the fresh parsley.

5. Add the crushed tomatoes and the peas.

6. Let the sauce cook for about 5 mins., set aside to cool.

The pasta should be cooked 3-4 minutes short of the cooking time written in the box. Drain the pasta and add it to the meat sauce. You may need a large pan for this. Set aside and let it cool.

Assembly the Timballo

7. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

8. Butter and flour a 9″ spring-form pan.

9. Mix the pasta, the meat sauce, and the cheese cut into cubes.

10. Take the dough and split it 60/40.

11. Take the larger piece of dough and roll it with a pin to about 1/4″ thick and large enough that will line the bottom and the sides of the pan.

12. Place the rolled dough in the pan and cut any excess dough overflowing from the sides.

13. Roll the remaining dough to 1/4″ and place over the pan to seal the entire Timballo. Cut any excess dough hanging from the sides and with your fingers seal the bottom and top dough together.

14. Decorate the top of the Timballo as desired and give it a good coating of egg wash.

15. Bake for about 1 to 1 1/4 hours until you have the desired color on top.

Once out of the oven let it rest for a few minutes and the serve, best by bringing it to the table to be cut. You should also please the eye, and serve it with a strong red. An Oregon Pinot Noir would be perfect, but so are some reds from Sicily to be geografically correct!

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