Tortellini in meat broth are a popular and traditional recipe from Emilia Romagna. They are a first course very appreciated especially in winter, when the harsh climate favors the choice of hot and steaming dishes, from soups to broths. But they are also a great classic of the Christmas period, served mainly in capon broth on Christmas Day or on Saint Stephen Day.
The two cities of Bologna and Modena have always been competing for the primacy, and although the dispute continues, as perhaps it is right, it was the Dotta Confraternita del Tortellino who deposited the original recipe at the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna.
The origins of the tortellino are ambiguous: legend has it that the deities Venus, Bacchus and Mars participated in one of the great battles of the Middle Ages between Bologna and Modena, during the saga of the kidnapped Secchia. After spending the night in an inn in Castelfranco, Venus was surprised completely naked by the owner who went to wake her up. The fascinated man tried to reproduce the features, specifically of the splendid navel, with a cloth of pasta: thus, was born the Tortellino, called precisely also Ombelico di Venere, Venus’ Navel.
As with all traditional recipes, each family has its own, handed down from generation to generation. At the base of the filling there is always raw ham, mortadella, pork loin and Parmigiano Reggiano, in combinations and proportions that remain a secret. In some families, for example, the loin is not cooked but minced raw. The registered recipe which we propose, however, suggests browning it a bit.
Certainly, what is fundamental for the success of homemade tortellini are high quality raw materials, both for the filling and for the broth that must strictly be broth of mixed meat or capon.
For the mixed meat broth recipe click here.
To prepare tortellini in broth, dedicate yourself first to the filling: cut the loin into slices and then into cubes and brown it in a non-stick pan with a knob of butter without adding salt. Let it cool and transfer it to the mixer with the prosciutto, the mortadella, the grated parmesan, the egg and the nutmeg.
Chop everything several times and in several stages until a homogeneous mixture is obtained. Only at the end adjust salt and pepper according to your tastes, bearing in mind that it will then be wrapped in pasta sheets. Let it rest in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, if possible for one night: in this way the ingredients will become considerably flavored.
Prepare the egg pasta. To prepare a perfect egg pasta, on a work surface (preferably of wood) place the flour as to form a fountain with a hole in the center (keeping aside a small amount to be used when needed). Put the eggs in the center and with a fork break them by gradually taking some flour around. When the mixture is no longer liquid, knead vigorously on the work surface until you obtain a smooth, homogeneous dough, which you will place inside a tightly closed plastic food bag. Let it rest for at least half hour at room temperature.
Roll out the dough with the rolling pin directly on the work surface bringing it to the desired thickness. Alternatively, you can use a peeler machine.
Using a smooth pastry cutter, cut into squares of 3-3.5 cm per side and place a little filling in the center. Cover the part of dough that you are not using immediately to prevent it from drying out too much. Fold each square in half to get a triangle. Press around the filling with your fingers to let the air escape and then seal. Close the ring by matching the two corners to the base by turning them around the finger and overlapping the dough a little. Prepare the tortellini by placing them little by little on the pasta trays that are floured or covered with parchment paper so that the tortellini do not stick to the bottom.
Cook the tortellini in the meat broth taking them with a ladle when they are well al dente. Transfer to serving dishes and serve your tortellini in broth very hot.
Fresh Tortellini, can be frozen, well separated from each other for 30 minutes and then collected together in a bag to freeze.
The secret is to work very quickly so as not to dry the pasta: the ideal is to prepare them together with someone to speed up the operations.