Saturday, June 13, 2015

L'Arte della Sfoglia, Part 3: Tortellini

Contrary to what I had imagined, Ida did not employee an army of small children to make tortellini. The tortellini production, in fact, proceeded in much the same manner as the tortelloni production before it.

First, in a show of excellent mise en place and utilization, fluted scraps of pasta leftover from making tortelloni were used.

Sfoglia specifically for tortellini is cut with plain wheels, so they typically have straight sides.

Zoom, zoom!

I wonder if anyone ever notices the oddball tortellino with wavy edges in their bowl of brodo?

L’Arte della Sfoglia’s tortellini filling recipe is a closely guarded secret, but Claudio did divulge that it contains fresh pork “lombo”, mortadella, salsiccia, Parmegiano-Reggiano, nutmeg, white pepper, and salt.

The chicken provides sweetness, and all pork would be too strong.

Ida could not have been more opinionated on the subject and insisted that prosciutto, which is a common ingredient in tortellini filling, does not belong.

She explained that prosciutto results in a filling that's too dry and “acidic”.

According to Ida, prosciutto is not for cooking, period. She pulled a bag of filling made by a local restaurant and provided to them for contract work out of her reach-in, and an impromptu tasting proved her point.

Claudio told us that their tortellini took fourth place in the area and first place within Bologna in one contest.

My husband, an engineer inculcated by the American culture of constant improvement, innocently inquired if they would adjust the recipe and try for a higher result.

Claudio summarily rejected the idea.

They were not interested in first, second, or third place if it meant changing their recipe. They would never deviate from the traditional recipe. “If you change the taste of the tortellini, they kill you,” Claudio said.

Ida, with her nimble fingers, makes it all look so easy. She motions as if to snap and another tortellino appears. But trust me when I say that making these tiny purses of pasta is harder than it looks, even for a relatively dexterous and accomplished cook. Each time she fixed one of my ugly tortellini she said she was “restyling”. She’s a patient teacher. Only after shaping dozens of tortellini, did her instructions to “pinch and then fold” make sense.

Together we produced what must’ve been thousands of tortellini. (And this was their slow time of year!)

Then it was time for lunch. As the pasta cooked, Ida made sure we understood that tortellini must be boiled in in broth, not water. We were treated to massive portions of tortellini tossed in thickened cream and topped with Parmegiano and, as if that weren’t enough, big slabs of their rich homemade lasagna.

Before I sign off, if you missed my last appearance on Flavors radio show back in April you can hear it here (listen at the six minute mark). Also check out this feature on Marinades in The Palm Beach Post. They ran my Four-Citrus Marinade and Buffalo Wing Marinade recipes.

Previously: L'Arte della Sfoglia, Part 2: Tortelloni.
Next up: L'Arte della Sfoglia, Part 4: Other Pasta Shapes.
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