Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Home Made Tortellini

Pictures suck big time, we were using a camera we didn't know, no natural light, with bad light bulb colors, I apologize.

Tortellini are something every Italian eat, usually cooked in meat broth. This tiny pasta comes from the region of Emilia Romagna, in particular from Bologna, the prominent city of the area. Tortellini, or turtlen in the local dialect, were probably born from the need to use up left over meat and the name comes from the shape of a little tortello, or something resembling a cake. There is another pasta called Cappelletti, or little hats, that are very similar to tortellini in shape and filling, but come from a different region in Emilia Romagna, and according to some internet sources are made with pasta that is rolled thicker.

Very close to where I grew up in Venice there used to be a tiny store that made homemade pasta. It was run by two sisters and had few automated pasta machines right in the front of the windows. Entering the shop you would be hit by the smell of fresh egg pasta that permeated the air. The two sisters sold fresh pasta in many shapes and forms, and my mom used to buy sheets or ribbons of pasta there, always wrapped in paper. I remember being mesmerized by the machine that would spit out perfectly shaped tortellini at an amazing speed, I always stopped by the store to see whether the tortellini machine was going. Like many artisanal stores it closed years ago, strangled by the cheapest versions made by big pasta manufacturers. All their costumers were heartbroken when they left, and tortellini have come from a sealed plastic bag ever since. In Italy there are few companies that make great fresh tortellini, but sadly this is not the case in the States where you can only find inedible versions of this pasta (this is my opinion only, feel free to accuse me of being a tortellini snob).

My very talented brother in law Stefano always makes tortellini in brodo around Christmas and his meat broth is legendary. Since we spent Christmas together this year, I challenged him to make our own tortellini using a recipe I found in Sarah's blog Fragole e Limone. I have to confess that I had to push a little because despite the fact that Italians love home made pasta, they rarely make it, tortellini are something people simply buy.

Sarah's recipe makes about 300 tortellini, and since we didn't have much time I had to enlist few people to make them and after the first few minutes we found a great rhythm, a kind of assembly line. As you can imagine we are not pro at making fresh stuffed pasta so most of our tortellini were really misshapen, and we had to find a different technique than Sarah's because we had a lot of rectangles instead of squares. In the end, the ugly ones tasted the same.

This recipe is really delicious, and I realize that most people would probably never make it or make it seldomly, but once you try it I challenge you to enjoy the store bought dry version again.

Tortellini are best cooked in broth as the flavors will leak out in water so if you bother making them at home do yourself the favor of making your own broth, a good home make chicken broth is all you need (grab an organic chicken, remove the legs to cook as you wish, cover with cold water, add a big onion cut in 4th, a medium carrot, celery, and a bunch of parsley, cook for 1-2 hours, chill, remove the meat and the fat, taste for seasoning).

adapted from Sarah of Fragole e Limone

Ingredients for about 300 tortellini

For the pasta
500 gr all purpose flour
5 large eggs
2 tablespoon of EVO oil
salt a pinch

Mix all the ingredients, either by hand or with a mixer. Add more flour is too wet, or a little water if too dry. Once the pasta is smooth, let rest for an hour. Roll the pasta into ribbons using a pasta machine, at a very thin setting.

For the filling
1 small pork loin
1 small veal steak
100 gr prosciutto
1 egg
noce moscata a piacere
3-4 tablespoons parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of butter
5-6 sage leaves
1/2 glass of white wine

Melt the butter with the sage leaves, add the meat and sear well. When the meat is cooked, remove it from the pan, add the wine and let cook down to a thick sauce (the filling has to be really dry to prevent the pasta from getting wet and stick. Once the meat is cool, process it to a paste with the nutmeg, salt, pepper, and the parmesan cheese. Add the egg and mix well.

Add 1/2 teaspoons of filling to each pasta square, fold in half, seal, and shape (check Sarah's post for pictures). Let the pasta dry for an hour, the cook for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size and the thickness of the pasta.

Ricetta di Sarah a Fragole e Limone

Ingredienti per circa 300 tortellini

per la sfoglia (vi dico quante uova ho usato io)
500 gr di farina 00
5 uova
2 cucchiai di olio
pizzico di sale

1° ripieno (versione nonna e Sarah)
1 lombatina di maiale
1 bistecca di vitello
100 gr prosciutto crudo
1 uovo
noce moscata a piacere
3-4 cucchiai di parmigiano
burro q.b
5-6 foglie di salvia

Si mette una noce di burro in padella con la salvia e si rosolano bene vitello e maiale: la carne deve cuocere fino ad avere quella crosticina dorata in superficie, che è ciò che da un sapore più deciso e gustoso al ripieno.
Poi lasciar raffreddare, tagliare a pezzi grossolani e frullare nel mixer (io lascio anche la salvia, ci sta benissimo) con il prosciutto, la noce moscata, sale, pepe e parmigiano.
Quando il trito è omogeneo aggiungerci l'uovo.
A quel punto stendere la sfoglia, farcire e chiudere i tortellini.
Noi li lasciamo asciugare qualche ora poi li congeliamo in sacchetti biporzione: la cottura in brodo poi è di circa 10-15 minuti, ma è soggetta sia alle dimensioni del tortellino sia allo spessore con cui avete tirato la sfoglia.

Buon Appetito!


natalia said...

Che meraviviglia !Bravissimi !

Sarah FragolaeLimone said...

Ma dai, siete stati bravissimi, altro che brutti!
Ho anche riportato il tuo successo a nonna, che molto fiera ha risposto "mi fa tanto piacere sapere che qualcuno abbia rifatto i tortellini come me...". Ed io sono felice come lei che vi siano piaciuti ;)

Anna said...

Hi! I have a 'little something' for you waiting on my blog :)

Cheers! Anula.

Kris Ngoei said...

Have to try these...... love Italian food and ready to make a meal of it! Thanks for sharing!

Sawadee from bangkok,

Gaia said...

e' una gran faticaccia.. ma che soddisfazione!!

natural selection said...

I have a feeling there is a little more to the Meat Broth any tips or secrets you can give me?
Come and see my Osso Buco!

Laura said...

Grazie Natalia, che bella soddisfazione fare i tortellini a mano.

Sarah, che bello che lo hai detto alla tua nonna, si merita un applauso!

Anula, thank you so much, I am really flattered.

Hi Kris, thanks for stopping by. I know you are really talented and this pasta won't disappoint you, I promise.

Gaia, si e' un lavoraccio, ma fatto in compagnia e' molto piu' divertente, e veloce!

Natural selection, chicken broth is really that simple, good meat, flavoring from few veggies and herbs, and slow cooking. It tastes so much better than what you find in a can that you won't go back to store bought broth any more. For meat broth, use some mixed meat with bones, because it is the bones that give the flavor. Try it!

Y said...

Looks delicious! I have to admit I rarely make pasta at home - especially tortellini. Just seems like a bit too much work to feed just one or two people :P That shop by the way, sounds wonderful.

One Girl In The Kitchen said...

Ciao Laura, ma quel negozio di cui parli era San Barnaba? Io ricordo un negozio li' in campo che vendeva i casunziei!!
Bellissimi i tortellini, chissa' che soddisfazione, davvero.
Una volta all'anno (oppure ogni due anni) vale proprio la pena di faticare tanto. Bravissima
: )

Laura said...

Y, yes that store was wonderful, if it still existed...

Sara, era nella calle che porta dalla chiesa di San Pantalon a San Rocco, non so di che anno sei ma probabilmente ha chiuso prima che tu studiassi a Venezia. Quello a San Barnaba credo sia ancora li', ma no aveva le macchine della pasta come l'altro.

Dewi said...

I never made my own tortellini, it should be on my list thing to do. It seems pretty complicated to me, but I wouldn't know until I get my hand on it, right?

Yours sounds perfect Laura.
p.s you're asking me where I live in CA. I live close to Stanford. Are you in SFO?
It's still raining here too, and quite windy. I have quite a bit of big tress, so it sounds even more windier.

Lisa said...

Laura, I've made many pastas and some filled pastas, but I have yet to make a good tortellini, especially one for a soup. This recipe looks and sounds amazing! Thank you so much for posting it!

Lisa said...

Laura..I have made many homemade pastas and some filled pastas before, but have yet to make a good tortellini for some reason..and I love it! Thank you so much for posting this recipe 0 they look and sound yummy..especially in soup (err..brodo!)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

De superbes tortellini! Une fabuleuse spécialité

Bises et bon WE,


Jill @ Jillicious Discoveries said...

I've never made my own pasta and I love tortellini!! Your post was so interesting and informative--now I think I may have to try making some! :)

Suzanne said...

the recipe sounds wonderful! I will give it a try!

Y said...

PS: Sorry to hear about your camera! Good luck with the new job. I hope you succeed in managing your time better than I have been! :)

Unknown said...

Where have I been? I have just discovered your blog and love it. I love how you recount your childhood in Italy. I'm of Italian descent and have made many ravioli/agnolotti with a similar recipe we had cabbage, more cheese and eggs. Beautiful blog!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, that is a wonderful post! I bet that tortellini dish tastes heavenly!



Annie said...

thanks for the recipe! I love tortellini and want to make it from scratch to give it a try!


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