It is somewhat of a surprise therefore to discover that this particular 'pie' has no pastry whatsoever. Fanny says we must leave the shores of this fine land and travel to France for a pie that is so very special it doesn't even have a name in English. Defying translation, we must tackle the Timbale. Fanny describes it as an economical main course 'dish' (so it's not a pie?) which is steamed in an overcoat of blanched macaroni. Maybe this is a steamed pudding then rather than a pie? Hang on, did she say Macaroni? A Macaroni Pie?
Fanny makes hers with smoked haddock, duchess potatoes (presumably green), tomatoes and boiled eggs, which seem to be appearing in everything these days. I'm switching mine up Scottish-style with vegetarian haggis, neeps and, erm, sweet potatoes. But first the so-called 'macaroni'. Fanny says to use the 'thick' kind which in her picture looks extremely long. I search high and low for long and thick, believe me. My local Italian deli comes to the rescue with Mezzo Ziti which I think is the right thing.
Fanny recommends cooking it in a roomy pan of boiling water, slipping it in very slowly so that it softens as it goes and does not break up. If it does, Fanny insists we must start again. It becomes clear why soon enough. Simmer for a mere five minutes before immediately removing, draining and immersing it into a bowl of very cold water. It should be just pliable. Fanny has ready a buttered soufflé mould and begins to coil the macaroni around the bottom, and then up around the sides. Ah-ha, broken bits will never do. It sticks well to the butter and to it's neighbouring strand of pasta while still 'just cooked'. Then layer up the filling - I start with the sweet potatoes, then the haggis and finally the neeps.
Fanny then covers the whole dish with buttered papers and steams it for around 35-40 minutes. The covering needs to be removed and the dish allowed to settle for 3 or maybe 4 minutes. Fanny warns it will be piping hot, just incase you weren't sure, so don't touch it. Lay a serving dish on the top, quickly invert it and give it a gentle shake - it should slide out well, providing you have buttered your soufflé dish thoroughly. Thankfully I have. It looks quite impressive actually, just like Fanny's own picture, adding a little flair and winter carbs to my usual haggis presentation. To add a wee Scottish kick, I serve with some Scottish Chilli Rocks from Galloway Chillies, which I bought on a recent trip to the lovely named Kirkcudbright, made with Scottish Gin from Rock Rose. Perfect combination. It does collapse a little (but only a little, honest) when you cut it, but the stripes of filling are appealing. The only thing I forgot was to stick a feather in it, but let's still call it a somewhat different, somewhat special, somewhat not-everyday, Scottish (maybe French, maybe Italian) Macaroni Pie.