A yawn, the smell of coffee coming from the kitchen, my eyes opening slowly on the new day and the new year begins. No fireworks, pin-wheels and spangles, this new year begins quiet, slow, curious, reflective and happy. This brand new year makes its first steps with sunny days and a new dress for Juls’ Kitchen, tailored again by Kia‘s magical hands in her haute couture tailor’s shop, a brighter and easier dress. I don’t know if it will be the final design, or whether it will evolve again, but I know that this dress it’s me, it is the 2011 Giulia, and it is a great achievement for me!
I’ve been thinking about the recipe that would have opened the 2011 and the new blog design and I finally chose the recipe that has had the leading role in my Christmas lunch and New Year’s Eve dinner, Cappelletti (fresh home-made pasta filled with a meat mixture typical of Emilia Romagna). I tasted the real Caplèt (how they call cappelletti in Emilia Romagna) years ago at Valli’s, one of my best friends, and since then I’ve dreamt of making them again. In our daily email exchange she kept telling us of the epic deeds of thousands of folded (and eaten) cappelletti, of the heavenly cappelletti filling scent that follows her from home to office, of the festive meals based on dishes full of cappelletti… I could not wait any longer, I had to have that recipe!
And so we had cappelletti. The recipe that Valeria sent me, as usual, called for ingredients for 4 people… I was perfectly aware of the usual outcome of Valeria’s recipes: once she gave me a perfect recipe for pumpkin ravioli for 4 people and I gifted my family with ravioli bags for a week. So, this time I made this recipe for 4 people and we had them at lunch for Christmas… there were 12 people sitting at the table! This is the traditional recipe of the Grasselli family, from Monticelli, Quattro Castella, Reggio Emilia. Make this recipe and you will have a guaranteed success: despite being this the first time I ventured myself into this preparation, everyone was extremely satisfied and amazed by its simplicity and the delicate yet true and delicious flavour of cappelletti.
Ingredients for the cappelletti filling:
- butter, 50 g
- lard, 1 heaping tablespoon (if you can’t find lard, use butter)
- white onion, 1/2
- garlic, 1 clove
- mixed minced meat (I mixed equal quantities of ground beef, ground pork, sausage and mortadella), 300 g
- cloves, 2
- rosemary, some leaves
- breadcrumbs, 200 g
- grated Parmesan cheese, 200 g
- egg, 1 large
Add butter and lard in a large pan and sauté on medium heat the finely chopped onion and a clove of garlic. When the onion is lightly browned, add in mixed minced meat, rosemary and cloves. Season with salt but don’t add too much salt: we will add later a large quantity of grated Parmesan cheese that will enhance the filling flavour. After about 15 minutes the meat will be completely cooked. Remove from the heat and add grated breadcrumbs. Stir to mix: breadcrumbs will absorb all the meat liquid. Remove the cloves, the garlic and the rosemary from the mixture and let it cool down. When it is completely cold, mix in Parmesan cheese and one egg.
Ingredients to make fresh pasta:
- plain flour, 250 g
- semolina flour, 250 g
- salt, 1 pinch
- extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon
- eggs, 4 medium
- cold water
Sift the plain flour with the semolina flour, place it on a wooden flat surface and make a well in the middle. Whisk eggs with a pinch of salt and pour them in the middle of the flour. Add in olive oil. Work flour and eggs with a fork, then start kneading the dough, pouring cold water little by little, until the dough gets soft, elastic and it doesn’t stick to your fingers anymore. Let it rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature.
Now, roll the dough: you can use a classic rolling-pin or the pasta maker. We have a classic pasta maker, a very old gift from my Grandad Biago for Grandma. The most important thing, either you’re using the rolling-pin or the pasta machine, is to keep rolling and flipping and rolling and flipping until you get a dough that is paper thin. Cut the pasta sheets first into horizontal stripes, then into vertical ones, to have 3 – 4 cm large squares. Place small pinches of filling in the center of each square of pasta and crimp into a triangle, sealing the edges. Hold the two sides of the triangle between your thumbs and your forefingers, overlap the two sides and seal them together.
Some tips to have the perfect cappelletti. The most important thing is to use a fresh and thin sheet of pasta, so roll out 2 or 3 stripes of pasta, cut it out, add the filling and crimp into cappelletti. Roll out some more sheets of pasta and keep going on until you finish all the dough. While adding the filling, make small balls, not larger than a walnut. If the filling tends to crumble, dip your fingers in water to compact it.
How to cook cappelletti. We ate them in the most traditional way, boiled in broth with a generous dusting of grated Parmesan cheese. You need just a few minutes to cook them and serve a steaming and tasteful dish of fresh cappelletti. Have leftovers? Well, if you want to follow the tradition, don’t keep on reading! we decided to have them with cooked ham and cream and a lot of Parmesan cheese… yummy, creamy and tasty, but not so respectful towards the tradition!
How to store them. As they are ready, place them on a tray dusted with semolina flour to prevent them from sticking together or to the tray. If you make a large quantities of cappelletti, you can also freeze them: place the cappelletti well apart on a tray in the freezer, then collect them as they are frozen in a plastic bag. When you want to eat them, just throw them in boiling broth as removed from the freezer, let them boil for a few minutes and enjoy them!