The Leopard’s macaroni pie

The Leopard’s macaroni pie

Timballo del Gattopardo

Laura Edwards

I feel privileged to have had something to do with this historical recipe. In 2008 the BBC asked me to present a TV programme to investigate the food liked and written about by Giuseppe di Tomasi di Lampedusa, a prince of Sicily, born at the end of the 19th century. This noble Sicilian was the writer of the most successful novel of Italian literature, Il Gattopardo (The Leopard), which is still very much admired today. I cooked in the original kitchen of the Villa di San Marco in Palermo, belonging to friends of the Prince, the family Camerata. The original recipe for this macaroni pie specifies unborn eggs from the ovary of a chicken and truffles. I have replaced these with hard-boiled chicken egg yolks, quails’ egg yolks and dried porcini.


Quantity Ingredient
1kg dried smooth macaroni
salt and pepper, to taste
2 packets ready-made shortcrust pastry
unsalted butter, for greasing
flour, for dusting

Roasting juices

Quantity Ingredient
1 piece veal, about 500g
100ml olive oil
300ml dry white wine
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary


Quantity Ingredient
50g dried porcini, rehydrated
150ml olive oil
2 onions, peeled and finely sliced
400g lean chicken flesh, cut into small chunks
500g chicken livers, cleaned and cut into small chunks
300g chicken hearts, cleaned and cut into small chunks
300g cooked ham, cut into cubes
200ml dry white wine
10 very hard-boiled chicken egg yolks
12 very hard-boiled quails’ egg yolks
150g parmesan, freshly grated


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C for the veal cooking and for the pie itself. Soak the dried porcini in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain and chop.
  2. Put the piece of veal in a pot-roasting dish with the oil and brown on each side for a few minutes. Add the wine, the vegetables and rosemary, put the lid on and cook slowly in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Collect the cooking juices in a jug, and keep the meat for another meal.
  3. In a large casserole, put 6 tbsp of the oil and fry the onions first until soft, about 10 minutes. Then add the chicken chunks and fry for 7 minutes. Now add the chicken livers and hearts and the soaked porcini. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, then add the ham and the wine and cook for 10 minutes until the wine has evaporated a little. Then add the juices from the roast meat, and ultimately all the hard-boiled egg yolks, stirring them in very gently.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water for 5–6 minutes until barely al dente, then drain.
  5. Roll the shortcrust pastry out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 4mm thick. Use about three-quarters of it to line a large greased dish of about 25cm in diameter, 12cm high. The remaining pastry should be enough for the lid; cover it with a cloth.
  6. Mix the pasta with all the filling and the juices, adding the Parmesan, and pour everything carefully into the pastry-lined pie dish. Cover with the pastry lid, seal at the sides and make a couple of holes in the centre. Brush with a little of the liquid from the sauce, and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Serve hot.


  • It’s unnecessary to say that this dish should be cooked for a very grand occasion. If you are very rich you can use white truffle instead of the porcini, but I am sure The Leopard would lick his paws in this version too!
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