Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Finale for Coronado Concerts in the Park: Last Supper

Our culinary challenges for the summer have been so extraordinary and diverse.  Shall we take a moment to review?  We kicked off this summer's Concert in the Park Season with Challenge Fill Me Up Until I'm Stuffed. Next was Challenge Cherries, followed by Challenge Spanish Tapas, Challenge Beer, Challenge Chile Peppers, and Challenge All-American. After the Fourth of July weekend, we embarked on culinary travel around the world:  Sailing the South Seas, Passage to India, Basque Country, and Journey to Russia.  We took a two week break from our travels with Challenge Citrus and Gourmazing Fast Food, and then set off to Greece and Peru.  If you are ever planning a theme party, this group has you covered with lots of ideas and recipes!  I wanted to highlight some of my favorite dishes from each chef, but it was absolutely impossible after looking back at all the incredible dishes everyone created throughout the summer.

This past Sunday, we put on quite a finale for the last Coronado Concert in the Park of the 2009 Season, with the theme of "Last Supper." 

I'll warn you now, this is a quite lengthy post.  Get comfy, pour yourself a glass of vino, and stay for a few minutes.  I found this bottle of Chianti, My Cousin Vino, and thought it was appropriate for my dish of the evening, Timpano!

Not too long ago, we rented the movie Big Night, after seeing a photo of Timpano.  I know, the movie came out in 1996 and I am over 10 years late jumping on the Timpano bandwagon.  However, after seeing the movie, and because I've never created such a pasta masterpiece, I promptly ordered a Timpano pan from Kolorful Kitchen.  It's a 6 quart, 14" enamel basin, that comes in a variety of colors.  At $17.00, plus shipping, it's a steal.  It's a necessity for Timpano, but also makes a beautiful and decorative accessory for the kitchen.  Ours hangs on the wall and adds a little character to kitchen. 

Here it is with the 2 lbs. of dried pasta (rigatoni or ziti) you will need for this recipe.

My beautiful, burgundy marbled, Timpano pan has been displayed for several months now, patiently waiting for me to try my hand at Timpano for my own "Big Night."  Our theme for the final Concert in the Park, Last Supper, provided all the inspiration I needed.  In Big Night, the Italian brothers are desperate to keep their restaurant afloat and plan a magnificent, extraordinary feast, starring Timpano.  Unfortunately, it was the restaurant's last supper, but the guests had a marvelous time.

Coronado Concert in the Park, Last Supper Timpano
Adapted from Mario Batali's Pasta, Old-Fashioned Style, to Cover: Pasta al'Antica Per Timpano
and Cucina & Famiglia: Two Italian Families Share Their Stories, Recipes, And Traditions

2 pounds rigatoni or ziti pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pasta Frolla, recipe follows
1 1/2 cups toasted bread crumbs
Ragu Napoletano (Neapolitan Meat Sauce), recipe follows
2 cups Provolone cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes  (about 12 oz.)
Besciamella, recipe follows
2 cups Genoa Salami, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 12 oz.)
Neapolitan Meatballs, recipe follows
8 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup butter

I prepared this over two days and my recommendation is to prepare the Ragu Napoletano, Basic Tomato Sauce and Neapolitan Meatballs, in that order, on Day 1.   You can also cut up the salami and cheese and hard-boil your eggs.

On Day 2, or the day you plan to serve the Timpano, make the Pasta Frolla, Besciamella, boil the pasta, assemble the Timpano, and bake.

Ragu Napoletano (Neapolitan Meat Sauce):
Yields 4 cups

1/2 pound veal, cut into chunks (I mistakenly bought ground veal, but it worked out fine)
1/2 pound beef chuck, cut into chunks
1 onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup red wine
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled San Marzano tomatoes and juices, passed through a food mill (I have yet to invest in a food mill, so I used an immersion blender)
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausages
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch hot chile flakes

In a large pasta pot or Dutch oven, combine the veal, beef, onion, and oil over high heat and cook until meat is seared on all sides and meat juices have evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until wine evaporates and meat is darker brown, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes, sausages, salt, and chile flakes.

Reduce heat to simmer and cook about 3 hours, stirring occasionally and skimming fat as necessary.  Remove from heat and remove meat from ragu. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and allow to cool.
This is a wonderful, rich, meat sauce.

Basic Tomato Sauce:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
Salt, to taste

Onions, garlic, carrot and thyme

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft.
Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds one week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer. Yield: 4 cups.

Neapolitan Meatballs (Polpette alla Napoletana):

3 cups day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/4 pounds ground beef, preferably chuck
3 eggs, beaten
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup pecorino, grated
1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted for 2 minutes in a 400 degree oven
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups basic tomato sauce, recipe follows

In a shallow bowl, soak the bread cubes in enough water to cover. Remove the bread cubes and squeeze by hand to wring excess moisture.

In a large bowl, combine the bread, beef, eggs, garlic, pecorino, parsley, pine nuts, salt, and pepper, and mix by hand to incorporate bread into meat. With wet hands, form the mixture into 12 to 15 meatballs, each of a size somewhere between a golf ball and a tennis ball.

Some of the meatball ingredients (I love the addition of toasted pine nuts)

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil until almost smoking. Add the meatballs, working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan (I did half, or 8 at a time), and cook until deep golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add all meatballs, cook for 10 minutes and allow to cool.

This are so good!

Besciamella Sauce:
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, heat butter until melted. Add flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until light golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat milk in separate pan until just about to boil. Add milk to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth and bring to a boil. Cook 30 seconds and remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg and set aside.

Pasta Frolla
4 cups flour
4 eggs, whisked
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup ice water

Place flour, salt and egss in food processor and pulse until blended.  Add ice water, slowly, until dough holds together.  Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead for 4 to 5 minutes. Wrap in plastic and set aside.

Cook the Pasta

Place 6 quarts water in large pot, bring to a boil, and add 2 tablespoons salt. Drop pasta in and cook 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Remove and refresh under cold running water until cool, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from refreshing bath and toss with 2 tablespoons oil and set aside.


Make sure all of your ingredients are ready to go.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Roll out the pasta frolla to 1/4-inch thick. 

Butter the metal bowl and dust with the bread crumbs. Lay the pasta frolla in to completely line all of the bowl plus 2 inches over the edge and set aside.

Mix half of the cooked rigatoni with 3 cups Ragu Napoletano and 1 cup of the Provolone cubes and set aside. Mix the remaining half of the cooked rigatoni with the besciamella, the remaining cup of the Provolone cubes and the 2 cups of the salami, and set aside.

Place the white mixed pasta into the mold and press down lightly.

Place the meatballs (polpette) over the white pasta carefully in a consistent layer and press carefully down.

Place the 8 hard-boiled eggs over the meatball layer.

Place the red pasta over the meatballs and press down gently.

Stretch and fold the extra 2 inches of pasta frolla over the whole thing and press gently.

Cover the open top with foil and place in oven to bake for one hour. Check internal temperature. If it is not at 120 degrees F, place back in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and let rest in Timpano pan for at least 20 minutes.

Invert onto a large serving platter, and allow to rest another 10 minutes.

Cut wedges and serve immediately.

Granted, it does take some time to prepare all of the homemade sauces and meatballs, but none of it is difficult.  The sauces and meatballs are amazing on their own (next time I will make double batches and freeze the sauces for other pasta dishes), and very impressive when combined together in this dish.  Also, don't be afraid of the dough - it is very easy to work with and roll thin enough to cover the pan.  So, if you haven't jumped on the Timpano bandwagon, I encourage you to do so and try this for a dinner party.  It seves about 15 people.

Now, finally, I want to share the other delectable dishes we enjoyed for our Last Supper...

Kai & Hillary's Lamb Osso Buco and extra Marrow Bones, garnished with Gremolata.  Kai even supplied special marrow spoons for scooping out all of the tasty marrow.

Jim & Carmen's Beans, with Ham hocks and Sauage, and Buttermilk Cornbread

Brad's Stuffed Pizza, courtesy of Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria in Mission Hills...if this isn't your Last Supper, it may not be too far off with 3 lbs. of mozzarella and all that sausage! 
John's Pumpkin Roll
Alec & Nina's Communion Wafers aka Truffle Brownies.  Alec also shared his fabulous Chicken Picata, but most of it was gone one before I could get a nice photo
Mom's Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch, courtesy of David Lebovitz.  Mom made half with white chocolate and a sprinkling of sea salt.  You may recall, Nina made another delicious version, for Challenge Citrus, using saltine crackers and a hint of Grand Marnier in the chocolate.
One last photo, our male Chefs de Cuisine:  Brad, Alec, Kai, John and Jim

Although it was the last concert of the season, this group just can't seem to stop cooking and eating.  We're off to the Park again this Sunday, while the weather is still beautiful, for Jubilee!  We'll have the Park to ourselves, the kids can run free, and the adults will gather around John's gigantic boiling pot of shellfish, sausage, corn, potatoes, and whatever else gets thrown in, for yet another opportunity to eat, drink and socialize!


Kai said...

Reading the recap always makes me want to have the same dishes all over again. Who knows how long it will be until I get to eat another Timpano(especially one as tasty as yours.)

Rose said...

Great job! My friend Leah has been bugging me to make Timpano with her. Was it that good or was it overkill? I am always a little afraid that it will be like the Italian version of fair food? No?! Great photos =)

Heavenly Housewife said...

Wow, what a lot of work and time goes into that dish, but it looks like a work of art :)