Sunday, November 25, 2007


In the film Big Night, a clip from which I posted last night, the two struggling Italian restaurateur brothers, Primo and Secondo, decide to put on a fantastic feast for the singer Louis Prima. "Oh, no, Primo - not timpano!" exclaims Secondo, for timpano or timballo is notoriously complicated to make and rather heavy on pan use, I must say. [The two words are interchangeable, both referring to a drum shape.] Primo goes ahead and makes a glorious one and it has become a famous image from the film. The version that Primo makes is covered in pastry, but more often timballo is a dish of a filling enclosed in rice. In the film everyone enjoys the party, but sadly Louis Prima does not come - the brothers have been duped by a business rival and they are ruined.

Last night your intrepid blogger decided it was high time she made a timballo and very relieved - nay, ecstatic - she was when it [literally] turned out well. I don't have a proper timballo mould so it hasn't got a nice, domed top but, reader, if I say so myself, it was delicious. Here's what you do:

1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2-3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 oz unsalted butter
4 tablesp olive oil
2 slices pancetta or coppata, cut into strips
4 oz chicken escalopes, cut into strips [In Italy the escalopes are sold very thin, but in Britain you might have to ask your butcher to beat them out for you, or do this yourself by wrapping them in clingfilm and bashing with a rolling pin]
a little flour
1 tablesp brandy
5 tablesp white wine
5 fl. oz milk
pinch grated nutmeg
handful flat-leaved parsley, chopped
3 artichokes
1.5 pints good, preferably home-made chicken stock
12 oz arborio or other risotto rice
pinch powdered saffron

Fry a third of the onion, half the garlic and the sage in 1 oz of the butter and 1 tablesp olive oil.

Dust the chicken strips with flour and add to the pan with the pancetta/coppata. Fry for a few minutes, without browning the onion, then add the brandy and 4 tablesp of the wine. Pour on the milk and let it all reduce slowly.

In another pan, fry another third of the onion, the rest of the garlic and the parsley slowly in 3 tablesp olive oil. Again, you don't want to brown the onion. Prepare the artichokes* and add them with the stock and 1 tablesp of the wine. Stir and cook for about 20 mins until the artichokes are tender. Drain them and keep the stock.

Preheat the oven to 200 C.

Now you need a risotto or wide pan about 2'' deep for the rice component is basically a risotto: Fry the rest of the onion in 1 oz butter in this pan, then add the rice and saffron. Stir it for a minute or two, then add about a third of the chicken and artichoke stocks. There is a lot of talk about risotto being "difficult" but it won't be if you follow the Welshcakes Limoncello method! Bring the stock to the boil, stir the rice, then let it simmer while you have a drink. When you have finished your drink the rice will have absorbed the stock. Stir it and add another third, have another drink, then repeat this step.

When the rice has absorbed all the stock and you are feeling nice and mellow, give it a good stir then use two thirds of it to line an oiled ovenproof mould or dish. Then add the chicken mixture and cover with the rest of the rice. It will need, at most, 10 minutes in the oven to firm up.

Remove it from the oven, loosen the sides with a round-bladed knife, put a serving plate on top, [pray] then flip the whole thing over - fast! Remove the mould and garnish the timballo with the artichokes.

* Note on preparing artichokes: I used to find this a pain but have come to the conclusion that you have to be ruthless with the things and you need to use young, elongated artichokes. If you use the tough "old" artichokes often sold in in Britain, you will end up with nothing left, unless you are a lot more dextrous than I am. It is essential to rub all cut surfaces with half a lemon to prevent discolouration when preparing artichokes. I find Marcella Hazan's instructions on the process the easiest to follow.


Gledwood said...

Chicken escallopes?

I still don't quite get that...


Hey can you tell me 7 odd things about you? For a tag... hahahaargh!!


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Gleds. They're just pieces of chicken breast, cut very thinly and flattened out. Only 7? I'm so odd I'll have to think about which quirks to tell you!

marymaryquitecontrary said...

I will try this soon; I love artichokes and risotto,so the two together would be a perfect meal for me. Getting young artichokes might be a problem. I wonder would a jar in olive oil work?

Leslie: said...

And what time am I expected? ;D

jmb said...

Looks good to me Welshcakes, but I am not eating rice these days. It's a long time since I had risotto, unfortunately. It doesn't fit in with the low carb plans.
But I do think this would be delicious. Thanks for sharing.

Whispering Walls said...

Bravo! I think I'll leave trying that until I have a weekend to spare.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, MM. YOu know, I was wondering that myself. I should think anti-pasto artichokes or tinned ones would work OK if they are well drained. Of course, you wouldn't have the artichoke stock to use then. I'd top up the chicken atock with water rather than make it too strong in that case. Any time you like, Leslie! Thanks, jmb.

lady macleod said...

You know me and food - looks good.

However in a non-sequiter: I thought about you today as I was reading. There is a line in the book that says: "..after a yucky divorce [she] legally changed her name to something Italian, just to feel sexy and happy again." The character was Korean!

How great is that?

jams o donnell said...

That looks and sounds delicius welshcakes!

Anonymous said...

WL -

This looks delicious and is definitely going on my To-Make list. Thank you for posting the recipe.

One thing, though - when you say "artichokes", I'm assuming that you mean just the hearts of globe artichokes. Is that correct?

I do like your method for making risotto. I've tried something similar before myself. I didn't bother with the "one third at a time" business though. I just tipped in the whole amount of stock and left it to look after itself. I'd read somewhere or other that that is what professional chefs do, so I thought, "well, why not?" It worked a treat.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, WW. It is time-consuming but worth it! Hi, Lady M. I'd love to know the title of the book? Thanks, jams. Ciao, Ludlingtonian. Glad you like the recipe. Yes, the hearts are more or less what you're left with. Your way with risotto sounds just fine to me! People make such heavy weather of it and it's not necessary!

Ellee Seymour said...

I'm just wondering what to cook for dinner. I hope you have some left overs!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I'll send the leftovers across, Ellee!

JRD168 said...

mmm, I want some too!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

You're welcome, jrd168. Thank you for visiting.


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