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Chicken Pasta Timbale Recipe, Chicken Fusilli Timbale or Fusilli Timballi di Pollo
Chicken Pasta Timbale Recipe, Chicken Fusilli Timbale or Fusilli Timballi di Pollo
Buongiorno miei amata amici!

One of the favorite meals in our home is Chicken Pot Pie, which I consider to be Southern cuisine. It is always homemade with a very flaky crust, filled with creamy chicken, potatoes, carrots, and celery. We fight about who gets the leftovers the next day! :) My chicken and pasta timbale or timballi in Italian, is a combination of a traditional Italian dish and our Southern favorite. To be clear, some call this same dish a Timpano, as it also means a type of drum and a shaped pasta dish as this. Pasta replaces the potatoes and Alfredo sauce replaces the cream of chicken.

A timballi, timbale, or timpano is either a cup or a drum and describes the molded shape of such a dish. There are many ways to make timbale, including using a custard to hold the meat and vegetables together. Because we were making a pasta timbale, it seemed to me that a traditional pie crust would be too heavy. I was correct. I was so satisfied, that I could not finish an entire slice of this timbale.

It is not uncommon for the Italians to reach through their borders and borrow techniques from other countries, as do the other countries often borrow from them. Living in the USA, I am accustomed to Mexican cooking and was amazed that traditional Spanish cooking is closer aligned to Italian cooking. The Mediterranean regions share many similarities, as do the French.

Chicken Fusilli Timbale enveloped in phyllo or fillo dough, puffed pastry.
Chicken Fusilli Timbale enveloped in phyllo or fillo dough,
puffed pastry.
So I borrowed Greece's love of phyllo or fillo dough, for a light, flaky pastry crust. I forewarn you, that if you have not worked with phyllo before, you may become quickly frustrated. However, a timbale is quite forgiving which is essential to a family-friendly meal. My children distracted me several times while I was working on the crust and it was falling apart and tearing from drying out. Yet, with a timbale, you just butter the dough and lay a couple of pieces over where the break happened and you are fine after the baking completes. Enjoy!

Chicken Fusilli Timbale / Timpano Recipe
or
Fusilli Timballo di pollo

Ingredients: 

  • 12" X 17" sheets of phyllo or fillo dough
  • 4 cups of boneless, shredded or cubed cooked chicken (I use thighs for moisture and taste)
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 6 T butter, plus additional for the phyllo dough
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 garlic head, all cloves finely chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of heavy cream or half-n-half
  • 1 cup of Parmesan and/or Romano
  • 12 ounces of fusilli pasta (can substitute any other pasta) 

Directions:

Butter the bottom and sides of a 10" springform pan. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fusilli and cook until al dente, drain and set aside. Do not rinse. Do not worry about it sticking together.

Onions, celery, and carrots are the soffrito for this Chicken Timbale recipe.
Onions, celery, and carrots are the soffrito for this
Chicken Timbale recipe.
Heat olive oil and 2 T of butter in pan over medium heat, add the onion, carrots, celery and saute until soft and beginning to caramelize, about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn down heat slightly and stir in the garlic, salt (not too much, remember the Parmesan adds salt too), and pepper. Saute about 1 minute until fragrant, without scorching. 

Creamy Alfredo sauce with chicken, onions, garlic, celery, and carrots ready to layer with the fusilli for the timbale
Creamy Alfredo sauce with chicken, onions, garlic, celery,
and carrots ready to layer with the fusilli for the timbale.
Add the chicken and 4 more Tablespoons of butter and continue stirring until chicken is hot and butter is melted. Pour in the cream all at once. Stir until mixture thickens. Turn off heat, add Parmesan and stir until well blended. Sample to see if the spices are correct. You can add a pinch of nutmeg too at this point, if desired.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


Melt at least 4 Tablespoons of butter. Place your springform pan on a pastry board and unroll your sheets of phyllo/fillo dough. Take about half of the sheets and lay them across the springform and cover with wax paper and a slightly damp towel. Cover the remaining half with wax paper and a slightly damp towel as well. 



Fold back all but one of the sheets of phyllo dough, and keep the wax paper and damp towel over them. Using a pastry brush, lightly butter the sheet, then gently unfold the second sheet and butter it too. Leaving the two in place, gently turn the folded pieces about 90 degrees so that the sides of your crust will be even in the end. Now continue to butter two more sheets and then turn the dough again and continue until the bottom is completed. 


Crispy, Flaky Phyllo (Puffed Pastry) on Timbale - hot out of the oven.
Crispy, Flaky Phyllo (Puffed Pastry) on Timbale
- hot out of the oven.
Take half the fusilli and place it in the bottom of the pan. Layer it with half the Alfredo chicken mixutre. Then repeat the layers. Take the other half of the phyllo dough and place it on top of the filling. Butter and turn the sheets to keep them even. When completed, fold and roll the ends of the sheets into the sides of the pan, kind of like how you make a top pie crust, except no pinching required. Now lovingly brush the top and those rolled sides with plenty of melted butter. 

Chicken Pasta Timbale - A slice of flaky perfection!
Chicken Pasta Timbale - A slice of flaky perfection!
Place pan in oven and bake at 375 degrees for about 35-45 minutes until very crispy. For an additional touch, you can sprinkle it with some Parmesan the last 10 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes before removing the sides. Then allow to sit for another 5 minutes before cutting. 

Update: We had the timbale leftovers for lunch today. It was soggy coming out of the refrigerator. I put it in an over at 300 degrees and the phyllo became crispy again. I also made some additional Alfredo sauce to go with it. The kids really liked it a lot more with the additional Alfredo. In Italy they commonly make a besciamella sauce, which is a bechamel or white sauce to go with many versions of timbale or timpano. Next time I will serve it with additional Alfredo sauce.








 
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