“Big Night” is a 1996 movie with Stanley Tucci who also co-wrote and co-directed. Set in New York in the 1950s’ it is a comedy about 2 brothers who try to introduce authentic Italian cuisine in their restaurant. This is a time when most people thought Italian cooking was spaghetti and meatballs.
It is a foodie’s movie. If you love to cook and eat, put this movie on your wish list. I remember when I saw it and being amazed at the main concoction they presented at the end of the big night. It was a mound of something.
I didn’t know what it was but it certainly held my attention. If I had followed through at the time, learned what it was and how to make it, I’d probably be an Executive Chef now.
However, this memory came flooding back when I took the Italian Cooking course with Chef Emma at George Brown. The recipe in Week 5 was labelled “Timballo di Scrippelle”. But when I saw Chef Emma, flip the spring pan and presented what she had made, the above image from the movie immediately came back to me. I knew I had to make this at home on my own.
I got a “Made in France” crepe pan. I figured I’d be getting into crepes at some point. Scrippelle is the Italian word for crepe. Timballo is an egg yolk/milk /cheese mixture that you add to the layers of crepes. I’m going to layer crepes with the Timballo sauce, meatballs. cheese and tomato sauce layers.
First thing is to make the meatballs. The need to be small, bite size. I used the ground pork I got from Stone Horse. Mix it with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Parmigiano, egg white, bread crumbs, liquid (water, milk, wine or stock), nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Hold a small amount of the mixture in your hand and let it squeeze up between the thumb and point finger. Use the tip of a spoon to scoop a little bit. You have the option of forming it into a little ball – but I didn’t.
Have an oiled parchment paper on a back pan ready. Put the meatball on the paper. The paper will catch the fats coming off of the meatball (easier to clean up).
Baking them for about 5 minutes then into a paper towel bowl to soak up the fat.
Getting the mozzarella diced for the timballo.
Once I start making the crepes I can’t stop until there done so I make sure I have my mise en place ready. Not pictured here is a stack of square parchment paper about 20 cm by 20 cm. They will be placed between each crepe after it is cooked.
I use a 3 oz ladle to pour the crepe mixture into the pan. I then swirl the mixture in the pan to thin it and spread it around into an even circular shape.
Look for the edges to start to curl up. That’s when you know it is time to flip. grab the edge of the crepe and use your index and thumbs to flip it over. Careful not to touch the edge of the pan.
As one crepe is done the other is cooking. I take the crepe out, lay it on the stack and cover with a parchment paper. I then ladle another mixture into the pan. Then switch to the second pan.
When the crepes are done I get my spring pan and mise en place ready – egg yolk/milk mixture, Parmesan cheese, mozzerella, meatballs, butter chunks, tomato sauce, crepes.
I’m using a non-stick pan. Alternatively you can use a buttered parchment paper base. Line the pan with crepes making sure that they overhang all around the edge. Leave enough overhang so that then can fold into the middle to form a covering.
Add some meatballs, cheese and the milk mixture.
Cover with another layer of crepes. Then add meatballs cheese and tomato sauce.
Continue with alternate layers then fold the crepes in to cover. Dollop with butter.
Cover with parchment paper and back for 40-60 minutes. Take from oven, allow to sit for a couple of minutes. Then flip the pie, remove the pan and lid. I must say I was so proud when I saw the result. It wasn’t as high as Stanley Tucci’s but it was delicious.
I sauted some chopped kale in olive oil and dinner was complete. It also made for lunch meals all that week.
I’ve made this twice at home now. It gets easier to do each time – just have everything in place and ready to use.
My next blog post will be on fruit as one of the assignments for my Theory course.