Emilia-Romagna is gastronomically one of Italy’s most famous regions. it is the birthplace and home of so many of what the rest of the world see’s as authentic Italian ingredients, Balsamic Vinegar from Modena, Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, Culatello and of course Bolognese itself. The Emilia-Romagna region is also an absolute pasta lovers paradise, the region is responsible for innumerable pasta shapes, many using the wonderful Durham wheat flour which grows throughout the region. The regions Durham wheat is of such high quality, pasta makers Barilla built their pasta factory in Parma. Even with its extensive range of regional pasta shapes, Emilia-Romagna is so proud of one of its pasta creations, it has become almost an icon of the region . . . Tortellini.
Tortellini is so loved by the regions inhabitants they hold festivals in its honour, use it on the regions tourist information and even some true Emiglians and Romagnians have Tortellini tattoos to show their true love of their regions beloved delicacy.
As with everything there are countless variations of tortellini, some filled with chicken, beef, veal, vegetables, fish, seafood or even sweet ingredients, but despite all these variations one dish, Tortellini in brood (pasta in chicken stock) has become a regional classic.
In the recipe below I have just used the traditional Emilia-Romagna recipe . . . if its good enough for them its good enough for me. The Brodo is a home made ultra-clear chicken stock, you could use chicken stock cubes, but lets be honest they are not the best, and a dish with a heritage like that of Tortellini in Brodo deserves a little effort. The tortellini themselves are filled with two of the regions most famous ingredients, Mortadella from Bologna and Prosciutto from Parma.
This truly is a deliciously simple dish which requires no tweaks, additions or substitutions or its ingredients . . . just cook it the way it always has been and enjoy!!
Brodo (Stock) –
300 g free-range chicken thighs and drumsticks, skin on
½ an onion
1 stick of celery
200 g tipo 00 flour , plus extra for dusting
2 large free-range eggs
75 g higher-welfare prosciutto di Parma
50 g higher-welfare mortadella di Bologna
1 pinch of ground nutmeg
50 g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese , plus extra to serve
(1). First, make the Brodie (stock) . Put the chicken, unpeeled onion and celery in a large stockpot. Halve the carrot lengthways, and add to the pan with a pinch of sea salt.
Pour over 2 litres of cold water, or enough to cover. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 4 hours, skimming occasionally.
(2). While the brodo is cooking the pasta dough. Pile the pasta flour on to a work surface, make a well in the centre, lightly beat the eggs in a bowl then pour into the well and then bring together, when they come together you will have a soft but firm dough. Lightly dust with flour, wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
(3). For the filling, heat a little oil in a saucepan, season the mince and fry until cooked through. Drain any water and leave to cool. Transfer to a food processor with the prosciutto, mortadella and nutmeg. Finely grate in the Parmesan, then blitz (or finely chop together by hand) until you have a very fine mixture.
(4). It’s best to make the pasta in stages so it doesn’t dry out. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Use a pasta machine (or a floured rolling pin) to roll out 1 piece into a long, flat, very thin 6cm-wide strip. Slice into 3cm squares.
(5). To make the tortellini, lightly dust a tray with flour. Place a ¼ of a teaspoon of filling in the middle of a square of pasta. Fold the pasta over into a triangle, and press at the edges to seal. Wind the folded edge around the tip of your middle finger and press the ends to form a ring. Continue until you have used all the rolled-out dough, then roll the next piece and keep going until it’s all used up.
(6). To serve, strain the stock and discard the meat and vegetables. It’s best to strain through muslin as you will get a much clearer and lighter brodo. Taste and adjust the salt, if it’s necessary.
(7). Bring to the boil, add the tortellini and cook for about 3 minutes, or till they rise to the surface. Ladle into bowls and serve.