Do you have that classic food that grandma always makes during the holidays? That one go-to dish that always makes your day? I do and it is, of course, Italian. The dish is called timballo, and it is possibly the best thing I have ever eaten in my entire life. There are many variations of this dish throughout Italy, but my favorite is the timballo from the Abruzzo region.
Timballo is structurally like a lasagna, yet the taste could not be more different. The ingredients are plentiful and it takes a lot of time and effort to cook, but the result is worth it. My family even managed to cook the timballo during quarantine this year!
The timballo comprises crepes, called “scrippelle” or “scorpelle,” depending on which area of the Abruzzo region you live in, tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmigiano, and meatballs. The preparation takes more than one person (if you want to make it quickly) and it is a straightforward but grueling process. One person needs to make the batter and create 40-50 crepes. Another person needs to shape the meatballs with ground meat. It is tradition that the meatballs be incredibly small, much effort must be put into assuring the meatballs are all relatively the same size. Let’s just say, I do not like to be given the job of making the meatballs! One last person needs to cut the mozzarella into cubes, prepare the tomato sauce and fire up the oven for the timballo to be cooked.
After all the ingredients are prepared, it is time to create the timballo. Start with a layer of a few crepes, then spread the tomato sauce and meatballs all around the crepes. After this, add some mozzarella cubes and parmigiano in the sauce, then add another layer of crepes on top. Repeat this layering process until you run out of ingredients or the pan that you are making the timballo in is full. Pop the timballo in the oven at 350-375 degrees for 30-40 minutes After removing from the oven, let it sit for 10-15 minutes and buon appetito!
The timballo is a traditional dish typically served during the Christmas and Easter periods. It is always a great time being bundled up at home in front of the fire eating timballo while it is snowing violently outside. The timballo will always be in my heart. It is not only food, it is also tradition.