Il Tortellino

HIS MAJESTY THE TORTELLINO

The festive dish: divine descent for Emilia Romagna’s most famous fresh pasta

THE TORTELLINI BETWEEN HISTORY AND LEGEND

An indefinite number of stories are read and passed down about the origin of the tortellini, as many as the secrets that each rezdora guards within the walls of her kitchen. Legends, paternity disputes and unique, inimitable recipes. The tortellini is said to originate from a vision of the goddess of Eros and beauty who surprised completely naked, gave a man the idea of reproducing the features of her navel in a small piece of pasta. The same legend, steeped in local tradition, has the first traces of tortellini found in a 17th century poem according to which a lady came to the Locanda Emiliana Corona to stay overnight after a long journey. The innkeeper decided to spy on her through the keyhole and was so struck by the beauty of her navel that he was inspired to create this special format of traditional fresh pasta from Emilia Romagna. Historian Cervellati then reports the presence of Tortellum ad Natale on Bologna tables as far back as the 12th century, and the first written records, in fact, date back to the 14th century, while in 1400 the tortellini is even mentioned in Boccaccio’s novella The Decameron. To come to the present day, one of the most significant dates in the history of the tortellini is 1904, the year in which the Bertani brothers from Emilia Romagna took part in the Los Angeles fair officially presenting the tortellini and sharing the secrets for its preservation. They thus paved the way for the commercialisation and diffusion of a traditional Modenese dish that is known worldwide.

THE RECIPE FOR TORTELLINO ACCORDING TO THE MARANELLO REZDORE

Ingredients for puff pastry

4/6 people 

  • 300 g Type 0 flour
  • 3 Yellow eggs (1 per 100 g flour)

 Stuffing

  • 300 g pork loin
  • 150 g cured ham
  • 150 g Mortadella 
  • 200 g Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
  • 1 egg 
  • Nutmeg

Cook the meat in a pan, and blend while still hot. When cooled, add ham, mortadella, cheese, nutmeg and egg and mix to obtain a homogeneous mixture. It is recommended to prepare the filling the day before and let it rest in the fridge. In some stuffing recipes, the meat is minced raw and mixed with the other ingredients without adding eggs.

Method

Roll out the flour on the pastry board in the classic fountain shape. Pour the eggs into the centre and start kneading with your hands until the dough is soft and smooth. Allow to rest at room temperature in a closed bowl for at least one hour before spreading. For the first kneading, a wooden rolling pin is used until a thickness of about half a centimetre is reached. Then cut into strips of the appropriate size to fit inside the dough sheeting machine. The first passage through the machine should be made with a thickness of 1 to 3. Then proceed with at least two more thinner steps until the desired thickness is reached.

What is the right thickness for tortellini pasta?

It is said that if you pull out the puff pastry and hold it in your hands against the light, it must be transparent enough to see through to the Bologna shrine of the Blessed Virgin of St Luke.

Continue rolling out by placing the dough on the surface and cutting strips and then squares with sides of about 3 cm. Add a pinch of stuffing (about the size of a pistachio) and fold it into a triangle. Then, see the magic happen! The folding to give it its typical shape is tailor-made for each hand, each rezdora has its secret, and each hand is found in the dish, among many others.

Once ready, place on a tray to rest. You can eat tortellini fresh or you can freeze them for about half an hour straight from the tray and then place them more easily in portioned bags in the freezer to avoid sticking.

TRADITIONS AND CURIOSITIES ABOUT THE TORTELLINI OF MODENA

That of tortellini is an all-female family ritual, traditionally linked to Christmas. It is the women who get together to make them, always standing in front of the pastry board, to offer relatives and friends a real festive meal.

Perfect tortellini, finished and folded, should weigh about 2g and a soup spoon should contain a maximum of 7 uncooked ones.

Strictly served with capon broth, the true rezdora makes no exceptions, except at the request of some modern, adored grandchildren. Only after the encore, it is permitted to wet the broth with a drop of Lambrusco, Emilia Romagna’s best-selling and most exported red wine in the world.

The tortellini are cooked in a saucepan without a lid for about three to four minutes. Cooking will continue at the table by serving them in the same saucepan.

 

We would like to thank the Comitato Maranello Tipico and the Ortinsieme Association of Maranello for their valuable help in reproducing the dishes.
 

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