December 7, 2010

Cappelletti in brodo (from the farm women of Villa Gaidello) Ps. I can’t wait go to Nonna Veglia’s house for Christmas!

·         200 grams boneless top sirloin beef steak, trimmed of fat
·         120 grams mortadella
·         120 grams prosciutto di Parma
·         1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese

·         4 jumbo eggs
·         ¼ teaspoon salt
·         ¼ teaspoon each freshly ground pepper and nutmeg
·         1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
·         3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

·         5L Poultry/Meat Stock
(you can make this to your liking – I was doing a quick dish so I just used a mix of Campbell’s chicken and beef broth -- Stefano said I should have just used chicken cause the broth should be a clearer colour – next time I’ll try it from scratch – i.e. boil chicken with bones, onions, celery, garlic, carrots, etc. -- either way, the mock version was still yummy as HELL.)

Making the Filling

In a food processor (I used the magic bullet), grind the cooked steak.  Transfer it to a medium sized bowl.  Place the mortadella and prosciutto in the processor and grind until they are very fine and paste-like. Add them to the bowl along with 1 cup of grated Parmigiano cheese. Blend all ingredients into a stiff paste, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Making the Pasta
  1.    A roomy surface of at least 24”x30”
  2.  A pastry scraper and a wooden spoon for   blending the dough
  3.   A wooden rolling pin or pasta machine (we used the machine for thinning the dough)
  4.   Plastic wrap (glad wrap, etc.) to protect the pasta from drying out to quickly
  5.   A sharp chef’s knife or pizza cutter for cutting the pasta (we used a knife and it was a pain in the buttocks!)
  6.   A flat pan/basket with tea towels for resting the sheets of pasta

Mixing the Dough:

Beat the eggs along with the salt, pepper, nutmeg and cheese.
Mound the flour in the center of the work surface. Make a well in the middle. Add the egg mixture to the hole in the middle. Gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour in the liquid, the sides may collapse.. don’t worry just keep working the liquid and the flour together. I usually want to cry at about this point... sticky dough all over my fingers... a mess everywhere... feeling hopeless... BUT DON’T GIVE UP and don’t worry if it looks like a hopeless messy lump! Once you have all the dough and egg mixture made into a lovely cohesive lumpy lump mass, you are ready to for the kneading. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it’s too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. If it’s too dry add a tablespoon or two of beaten egg.  Continue kneading for 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. DO NOT SHORT CUT THIS STEP.

keep kneading!
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature for 30   minutes to 3 hours (the time has little to no effect on the pasta).
You are now ready to stretch and thin the pasta. Roll out a quarter of the dough at a time (keeping the rest wrapped). Lightly sprinkle a large work surface with flour. The idea is to stretch the dough rather than press down and push it. Shape it into a ball and begin rolling out to form a circle, frequently turning the disc of dough a quarter turn.  As it thins out, use your hand and the rolling pin to stretch it out further. The goal is a sheet of even thickness.  The pasta should be thin enough to see your hand or colour through it. 

Time to cut. Always keep remaining sheets of dough and finished pasta covered, so as not to let it dry out.  You want to cut square sheets of 5cmx5cm. Once you have all your squares cut you take a tiny round ball of the filling and place it in the middle of each square.  You fold the square in half (filling is in the middle) pressing down firmly all around the filling. Then you take the two ends (where the fold is – not the corners) and join them. The fold is simple but hard to explain.. I should have taken a photo of it. If you don’t understand just ask me and I’ll try to be clearer! (Or Stefano will... he did all the folding while I did the cutting -- he made fun of my 'piano method' of folding and wouldn't let me fold - don't  ask!)

Making the Broth/Cooking the Pasta
Start boiling the broth. You can do your own or buy the ready-made kind. Obviously if you do your own it will be yummier.  Drop the cappelletti in the broth... it should only take a minute or two to cook. It should be tender but still have some “bite,” or firmness.
Ladle the broth and cappelletti into bowls and sprinkle or completely cover (yum yum) with cheese!
Buon Appetito!

This recipe is from our new great value village find: “The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia Romagna, the heartland of Northern Italian Food

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