Tortellini in Brodo

Tortellini in a Broth

This is the most classic of all the soups from Emilia Romagna: the rich chicken stock has delicate hand-made pasta parcels filled with minced meat floating on the surface. Making tortellini is an art; on your first practice run you might do better to use a 2-egg quantity of pasta and half the filling.

Ingredients

Chicken Stock

  • ½ a chicken
  • 450 g (1 lb) shin of beef
  • 1 large carrot, scraped
  • 1 onion
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed a handful of fresh parsley
  • 2 small cabbage leaves
  • salt and pepper

Pasta

  • 300 g (10 oz) plain white flour
  • 3 large eggs

Filling

  • 100 g ( oz) rump steak, cut into cubes
  • 50 g ( oz) turkey breast, cut into cubes
  • 30 g (1 oz) butter
  • 100 g ( oz) mortadella
  • 100 g ( oz) prosciutto crudo
  • 2 eggs
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 200 g (7 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Method

To make the broth, put all the ingredients in the bottom of a stock pot, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with about 3 litres (5 pints) cold water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 3 hours. Check seasoning, strain twice and leave to cool overnight.

The next day, make the pasta. Put the flour on to the table in a mound, make a hollow in the centre with your fist. Break the eggs into the hollow. Keeping your fingers stiff, mix the eggs into the flour, then knead together.

Work the dough thoroughly for 15–20 minutes. It should be quite stiff, but golden yellow, elastic and smooth. Cover with a damp clean cloth and leave to rest.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Cook the steak and turkey together in the butter over a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Cool, then mince twice with the mortadella and prosciutto. Mix in the eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper and 150 g (5 oz) of the cheese. Set aside.

Roll out the pasta as thinly as possible, fold it in half and roll it again. Continue in this way until it snaps at the fold as you roll it. When you hear the snap it is ready to use. Roll it out again very thinly and cut it into 4 cm ( inch) circles with a pastry cutter or upturned wine glass.

Place a tiny mound of filling in the centre of each circle, fold in half and press the edges together tightly to prevent the filling escaping during cooking. When they are all folded securely, shape into crescents. Take each one and twist it around your index finger, secure the ends together tightly (use a dab of cold water if you like) and slide the completed tortellini off the end of your finger. Lay them out in neat rows on floured tea cloths, without overlapping. There may be filling left over – it depends on how good you become at rolling the pasta thinly.

Bring the broth to the boil. Slide the tortellini in and cook for 2–3 minutes. Serve at once with the remaining cheese sprinkled on top. I always drink a generous bottle of Lambrusco with this dish.

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