I’ve done many different jobs before finding my place in the universe teaching cooking classes and writing recipes… I gave private lessons of Latin and Greek, I was an entertainer at children’s parties, an employee dealing with marketing and communications, an event organizer and even an interviewer at trade shows. Once I was even hired with some friends as hostess to the MotoGP races in Mugello, when Valentino Rossi was still in the Yamaha team, winning one race after the other. During the day we would sell tickets and gift the Yamaha supporters with gadgets and T-shirts, in the evening we would drive back exhausted to the small inn we had booked, the only one left, lost in the woods of the Mugello.
Despite the tiredness, one night we drove to Barberino del Mugello for the tortello town festival. Now, if I think back to that weekend I do not remember neither the crowd nor the heat, nor even the emotion of seeing Valentino Rossi’s victory from the Yamaha stands, I only remember a bowl of steaming ravioli served with meat sauce.
This is another recipe for fresh pasta, this time filled with potatoes: the tortelli in Mugello have a more rustic filling than the ones from Maremma, betraying their mountain origin, with a robust taste. The potato filling is flavoured with a bunch of chopped fresh parsley and a clove of garlic (or more, if you like it), making them a perfect pairing to a rich meat sauce, our ragù, a tomato sauce with a distinct hint of garlic or even a thick nutty pesto.
Probably they have a too distinct flavour to introduce a Christmas lunch with your friends or family, the garlicky filling could be too pungent and linger on your taste buds, covering what would come after.
So, as for the chicken liver and walnut paté, we must work on the ingredients, add this remove that, to give an even more festive and celebrative touch, a sprinkle of magic. Cut them like chubby stars or bellied suns, replace parsley and garlic with some aromatic freshly ground black pepper and a generous handful of semi aged Tuscan pecorino cheese, one of our most typical products.
If you are searching for a reliable ragout recipe, check my family big fat Italian meat sauce.
- 150 g tender wheat flour
- 150 g durum wheat semolina flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 medium eggs
- Cold water
- 300 g potatoes
- 100 grated semi aged Pecorino cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
Sift the tender wheat flour with the semolina flour, pour them on a wooden board or a large working surface and make a well in the middle.
Break in the eggs and add a good pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil.
Mix the flour and the eggs with a fork until crumbly, then knead the dough, adding cold water if needed.
Keep on kneading, more and more, as to develop the gluten which will give strength to the sheets of pasta. Just do as when you knead the bread: hold it with one hand while you roll it from you with the other, with the heel of the palm.
After a while the dough should have the right consistency: smooth, velvety and no longer sticky.
Wrap it in plastic film and let it stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Boil or steam the potatoes, let cool and then mash, mixing with the grated pecorino cheese. Season the filling with salt and pepper to taste, then add a hint of grated nutmeg.
Roll out long strips of pasta, about 10 cm wide. Lay them on a floured tablecloth.
Put little mounds of potato filling – about one teaspoon each - at regular intervals onto the strips. Cover with another sheet of pasta and press gently with your fingers all around the filling, to seal it. With a scalloped pastry cutter cut the tortelli, leaving about an inch of pasta all around the filling. Put the tortelli on to a floured tray in one layer.
To cook the tortelli bring a large pot of water to the boil, salt the water and pour a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in it: this will prevent tortelli from sticking to each other.
Cook the tortelli in batches, according to the size of the pot.
When they rise to top, which will be in about 10 minutes, remove them gently with a large slotted spoon and place them on a large deep plate. Season them as you prefer, they are excellent with a traditional meat sauce or with a full-bodied game sauce.
These tortelli freeze well, spread them on trays in a single layer and then, once frozen, gather them in a freezer bag. Cook them frozen, throwing them directly in a pot of salted boiling water.
Wine paring by Cecchi
Val delle Rose Morellino di Scansano Riserva. A more structured and complex version of a Morellino. Soft, warm, captivating, perfect with the meat sauce and potato tortelli and perfect for winter evenings in front of a fireplace. The roundness of Sangiovese is the ideal company to a rich first course.
And now, after the chicken liver and walnut paté as appetizer and a rich home made first course, what do you think we’ll be serving tomorrow? A real classic, can you guess what are we roasting right now?