The burnished gold of the casing, the fragrance of sugar and cinnamon it exuded, was but a prelude to the sensation of delight which was released from the interior when the knife pierced the crust; first a spice-laden steam burst forth, then one glimpsed the chicken livers, the hard-boiled eggs, the slivers of ham, chicken and truffles in the rich, hot mass of pasta, to which the meat juices lent an exquisite chamois hue.
prepare your ingredients: eggy short crust pastry, preferably sweetened with sugar (this is the surprising part: and in the Lampedusa version they used spices too)
little meat balls made with bread, parmesan, minced beef, egg and milk; chopped mozzarella; plenty of grated parmesan
peas cooked in a little onion and ham with butter or olive oil (in these cases in Naples they use butter); a good rich tomato sauce; short pasta, cooked very al dente
roll out pastry quite thick and line deep baking dish with it, reserving a third for the lid
mix al dente pasta with sauce and layer it with meatballs, mozzarella, peas
more sauce and pasta, parmesan
...and more of everything else
until the pie case is full.
cover with lid
bake in moderate oven until golden brown (a transparent dish is best, to see the colour on the sides as well)
after removing from oven let pie settle for 10 minutes, covered with a cloth
turn it out onto a tray or dish: hold the dish over the lid and flip over
a well turned-out timballo
Cut and eat: this is the moment that Lampedusa so beautifully describes. You will have to imagine the fragrance of the spice-laden steam, although in our case there are no spices: