The tale of tortellini is steeped in classical history. You might well be familiar with the famous Renaissance painting by Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, which depicts the goddess of love and beauty emerging from a clam shell carried onto the shore by a wave (if you haven’t seen it we highly recommend you look it up - it’s quite something). Whilst this image may not conjure up associations with the small parcels of pasta in question here, they are more closely connected than you know. As legend has it, an innkeeper in Castelfranco Emilia is said to have spied on one of his guests, Venus herself, through the keyhole of her door. In this partial glimpse he was awestruck by her beauty and rushed to his kitchen where he created a new form of egg pasta, modelled on the goddess’ naval.
Whether inspired by the goddess of love or not, this delicacy native to Emilia-Romagna is now a festive favourite, forming a staple part of Christmas Dinner in many Italian households. It is served in a hearty broth and each piece of pasta is filled with a delicious combination of pork, prosciutto and Parmesan. For many, the act of making tortellini in brodo - particularly making the pasta dough and filling each tortellini parcel - is a way for family members to come together and jointly prepare the Christmas meal, a lovely way of kicking off the festivities!
Our Tortellini in Brodo recipeServes 6
Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes (including pasta)
Calories per serving: 862 kcal
For the broth
- 600g chicken bones (a whole carcass would work)
- 3 litres water
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
- 1 carrot, peeled
- 1 stick of celery
- 1 potato, peeled
- Salt and pepper
For the pasta
- Fresh pasta dough (follow this recipe and make a double quantity)
- 200g pork loin, finely diced
- 2tbsp butter
- 200g prosciutto
- 200g mortadella
- 100g Parmesan, grated
- 2 eggs
- Nutmeg, freshly grated (a generous pinch)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Combine all of the ingredients for the broth in a large pot over a medium heat. Allow to simmer gently for 2 hours, removing any foam that forms at the surface
- After the 2 hours, remove the bones and vegetables and strain through a sieve and set aside
- Whilst the stock cooks, make the pasta dough (following our helpful guide) and leave to rest in the fridge
- As your pasta rests, prepare the filling. Start by melting the butter in a frying pan (don’t turn the heat too high or the butter will burn) and browning the pork on each side
- Remove from the heat and mince with the mortadella and the prosciutto before combining the meat with the Parmesan and eggs and seasoning with the salt, pepper and nutmeg
- Divide the pasta dough into 3 equal pieces and roll them out, spreading them across a floured surface
- Cut each sheet into squares of roughly 3cm and place half a teaspoon of filling into the centre of each
- Fold the square diagonally in half over the filling to form a triangle, then fold it again so that the corners come together to form a pocket (as shown in the picture below)
- As you shape the pasta, squeeze out any air bubbles that form. Seal the pieces of pasta with a drop of water if necessary
- Reheat the broth and season to taste, when the pot is simmering, add the tortellini. Cook for about a minute and then remove from the heat
- Top with a sprinkling of Parmesan and serve immediately
How should I serve my Tortellini in Brodo?
Tortellini al Brodo is traditionally served in northeastern regions of Italy, most prominently Emilia-Romagna, during the Christmas season. It can be enjoyed as a stand-alone dish or as a primo in a more traditional meal consisting of multiple courses. Whatever you consume before or after your tortellini al brodo, this pasta-based delicacy should be adorned only with a dash of Parmesan, it doesn’t demand any other sort of garnish.
What wine should I pair with my Tortellini in Brodo?
Choosing a wine to accompany this dish is largely down to personal preference as its simple nature invites a variety of pairings. However, it is worth considering how you plan to serve this dish - in the context of your meal more broadly - when picking an accompanying vino. If you intend to serve it as a primo then matching with a more aperitivo-esque spumante would work well. For a true taste of Emilia Romagna you could pick a bottle from the Venturini Baldini winery. Alternatively, if you’re serving your tortellini al brodo on its own or as a main course, then a vino rosso would complement it perfectly. We would particularly recommend a more earthy variety, for example a wine made from the Nebbiolo grape, usually from the region of Valtellina or Piedmont.
For more ways to bring Emilia-Romagna to your home this winter, be sure to stop by our Winter in Emilia-Romagna page and order from our limited edition menu, available from 14th to 20th December. Will you be joining us on our winter trip to Italy? Be sure to share your holiday-at-home snaps on social media using #PastaEvangelists #ItalyatHome.
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