Monday, January 4, 2010

The Cappelletti Quest Realized

There is not much that I miss about New York. I have a wonderful life here in my beloved Nashville. There are only two things that are missing here:

1. My extended family, and

2. Cappelletti

What is cappelletti you ask? They are the smallest tiny tiny version of the tortellini form. Cappelletti literally means tiny hats, and believe me ... they are tiny. They are usually stuff with a mixture of meats, ricotta and nutmeg. And it is extremely impossible to find them down here. I would settle for meat tortellini, their larger sibling, but the stores only carry cheese tortellini.


So I did what any crazy person would do....I made my own.

The pasta was easy. My ratio for pasta dough works like this:

100 grams flour + plus 1 egg = 1 serving of pasta

My ratio is in grams....I know. I blame this on the fact that I am left-handed, and wear a tiara when I vacuum.

I made my recipe for 7, because I like odd numbers....again blame the left-handed person that I am.

So on your big surface, board, marble-top counter, whatever, you pile up your flour, and make a big well in the center. Crack your eggs into the center, and start gently scrambling the eggs, incorporating a little bit of flour as you scramble. Once you have dough that you can handle, start kneading, and knead until you have a smooth ball of flour. This will take some time, and is a great way to get out aggression. Then, wrap the dough in cling film, and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Time to assemble the filling. The filling was very important to me, so being the crazy that I am I contacted a possible distant in Italy (isn't Facebook wonderful) whose family lives in Modena, not far from where my branch is from, and asked him to ask his mamma what she puts in her cappelletti. He e-mailed back her recipe in no time, and this is what I used:

400 grams turkey (I used dark meat)
1 pork chop
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs
a pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper

I ground the cooked turkey and pork chop in my food processor, and combined this with the ricotta, eggs and spices. So so easy.

Your pasta should be ready to take out of the fridge. Run it through your pasta maker (the old fashioned hand-crank kind please) until you have thin, rectangular sheets. Cut the sheets into even squares.

Now let me get to the pain in the posterior part. Assembly. Remember how I said that cappelletti are tiny tiny? I wasn't kidding. You basically fill the 2" square of pasta with a pea-sized amount of filling, and then fold into the classic eleventy million times.

Once I had a baking dish (lined with wax paper) full of cappelletti, I put them in the freezer, and once the individual cappelletti were sufficiently chilled I put them in a big container, and put them back into the freezer.

And then I sat down to collect myself.

Cappelletti are traditionally served in a bowl of broth. I use chicken, but it can be any meat broth. Once you bring the broth to a boil you drop in your cappelletti, and once they are all floating on the broth surface your soup is done. This was delicious, but I can completely understand why this is only eaten around Christmas time. It is very time consuming, and you really need a holiday break to get this made!

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