A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to be invited by Roz from La Bella Vita to write a guest post for her blog. She asked if I could present a traditional Italian Christmas dish. I didn't really have a dish that is only for Christmas, so I chose a recipe for really special occasions - an Italian classic adapted from Silver Spoon's "Pasticcio di Tagliatelle".
As I explained on Roz's blog, "in Italian cuisine, a 'pasticcio' (sometimes referred to as 'timballo') is a preparation in which several ingredients (including pasta or rice, meats and sauces) are baked in the oven within a pastry shell or a pie crust. The resulting dish, which looks plain on the outside but reveals rich fillings, was invented in the 1700s by palace chefs precisely to surprise and delight their noble guests. Today, pasticcio is still considered a dish for special occasions, including the Christmas meal."
Timbale: ingredients for 3-4 servings
- 2 Tbsp (30 g) unsalted butter (including some for greasing)
- 7 oz (200 g) pizza dough (which can be bought in specialty stores)
- Some flour (for dusting)
- 4 oz (120 g) fresh spinach
- 6 oz (170 g) Cremini mushrooms, chopped
- ½ oz (14 g) dried Porcini mushrooms, re-hydrated and chopped
- ¼ cup white wine
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) milk
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) heavy cream
- 4 oz (120 g) tagliatelle pasta (either fresh or dried)
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- Some salt and pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Preheat the oven at 350°F (180°C).
- Grease an oven-proof dish with butter.
- In a large pan, roast the fresh mushrooms in butter for 5 min at high heat.
- Add the re-hydrated mushroom, cook for another 2 min at medium heat (a1).
- Add the wine (a2) and allow it to boil until it evaporates.
- Cook the fresh spinach in a covered pot (without any added water) at medium heat for 5 min (a3).
- When the spinach is ready, squeeze out as much water as possible and chop.
- Add the spinach to the pan (a4).
- Add milk and cream (a5), adjust salt and pepper.
- Cook the tagliatelle in plenty of salted water for 2/3 of their standard cooking time.
- Drain the tagliatelle and them to the pan. Incorporate gently (a6).
- Roll out the dough to the thickness of 1/8 inch (3 mm).
- Line the (greased) oven proof dish with the dough (b1).
- Spoon in the filling (b2).
- Beat the eggs with the Parmesan. Pour the mix uniformly over the filling (b3).
- Fold the pizza dough fully wrapping it around the filling (b4).
- Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350°F (180°C) until the top is well browned.
Wine Gravy: ingredients for 3-4 servings
- 1 Tbsp (15 g) unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp (15 g) all purpose flour
- ½ tsp vegetable stock extract
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup white wine
- Warm up the butter in a small pan (c1) at medium heat until it barely melts.
- Add the wine (c2) and the vegetable stock extract (c3). Let it reduce.
- Add the flour (c4), then mix until a ball of dough forms.
- Add a small amount of milk and whip until you get a creamy texture (c5).
- Gradually add the rest of the milk, as you continue whipping.
- While stirring constantly, boil for at least 2 minutes until the mix thickens (c6).
- Pour the gravy in the bowls, then place a slice of timbale in each bowl and serve immediately.