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Chicken Tortellini in a Sweet Onion
LambruscoBroth with Grana and Leeks
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Chicken Tortellini in a Sweet Onion
Lambrusco Broth with Grana and Leeks

Mario Batali Simple Italian Food:
Recipes from My Two Villages

by Mario Batali,1998, Clarkson N, Potter, Inc.
(Crown Publishing Group)

“Tortellini in brodo is the ultimate holiday indulgence in and around
Bologna. Making the tortellini from scratch, as opposed to buying
them, really separates the rookies from the pros in the home kitchen.
This is not a dish to make after a long day at work, so avoid it if you
do not have ample time to enjoy the meditative quality of this
repetitive but satisfying task.”

Serves 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
7 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup dry white wine
3-ounce piece prosciutto, chilled
5-ounce piece mortadella, chilled
1 cup grated grana cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
2 medium red onions, cut into
1/4-inch dice
2 cups Lambrusco wine
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 recipes basic pasta dough
(recipe follows)
6 cups good chicken stock
1 leek, washed and cut into fine
julienne (about 1 cup)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-
Reggiano cheese

 In a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat until just starting to foam. Slice the raw chicken very thin across the grain and place
in the pan with the butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly,
until very lightly browned. Add the wine, cover, and cook for 3 minutes.
Uncover and continue to cook until liquid is gone, 5 more minutes. Set
aside to cool.
Cut the prosciutto and mortadella into 1/4-inch dice and place in a food processor. Add the cooled contents of the sauté pan and pulse just until coarsely ground – like meat, not mousse. Transfer to a large mixing bowl
and add the Grana, nutmeg, milk, and egg. Fold together carefully,
season with salt only, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
In a stainless steel saucepan, combine the onions, Lambrusco, and
sugar. Cook over low heat until thick like marmalade, about 20
minutes; cool.
Roll the pasta dough out to the thinnest setting on the machine and
cut into 2-inch squares. Place 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of
each square. Bring the two opposite corners together to form a tri-
angle, pressing the edges firmly together to seal. Bring the ends of
the triangle together and join with firm finger pressure. It should
now look like tortellini, but may resemble Venus’s navel. Continue
until all the pasta or filling is used up.
Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large soup pot and add the onion mixture. Drop the tortellini and leek into the broth and simmer for 8
to 10 minutes, until tender. Spoon into 6 bowls with ample broth and
serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Fresh vs. Dried

"Fresh pasta and dried pasta are as different as night and day. In Italy, the
idea of using different shapes of pasta interchangeably with different sauces
or condiments simply does not exist. The same holds true for fresh versus
dried pasta.
Dried, hard pasta is made of 100 percent hard wheat (durum) flour; it is high
in protein, low in starch, and retains its shape when cooked al dente. Pressed
through metal dies in special machines, the pasta itself is relatively solid,
smooth, and difficult to penetrate. For this reason, dried pasta is most often
served with sauces in which olive oil, shellfish, or firm vegetables play a large
role – the pasta maintains a clean, firm texture yet remains separate from the
sauce, dancing in a close embrace with the oil without soaking up too much.
Fresh, soft pasta is made of the soft wheat flour that grows on the plains near
Parma and whole eggs and is rolled between a wooden board and a wooden
rolling pin to produce flat noodles of the most porous, sauce-clinging, and
absorbent quality possible, or rolled on a pasta machine to produce slightly
less thirsty results. Porous, hand-rolled pasta served with oil-rich tomato or
vegetable sauces would soak up too much oil and render the noodles slick
and greasy. Serving it with an austere amount of rich ragu, or using it to
enclose a rich ricotta mixture and saucing it with silken melted butter and
sage, renders it poetic and full of passion.
Both styles of pasta have their place in Italian households; I tend to prefer
dried pasta and its Spartan condiments in the warmer months and fresh
pasta and its rich accompaniments in the cooler months.”

Basic Pasta Dough

Makes 1 pound

“This yields enough fresh pasta to serve four as a first course pasta dish or two
as a main course. Divided into 4 portions and rolled to the thinnest setting on
a pasta machine, it can be used to make ravioli and other stuffed pastas.
Rolled slightly thicker the sheets can be cut into varying widths, as follows: Tagliolini: 1/4 inch; Fettuccine: 1/2 inch; Tagliatelle: 3/4 inch; Pappardelle:
1 1/2 inches"

3 1/2 to 3 cups unbleached
all-purpose flour
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Mound 3 1/2 cups of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting
board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs and oil
and begin to incorporate the flour starting with the inner rim of the well.
As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. Do not worry that this initial phase
looks messy. The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated.
Start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands. Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover crusty bits. Lightly reflour the board
and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic
and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30
minutes at room temperature. Roll or shape as desired.

Note: Do not skip the kneading or resting portions for the dough.
They are essential for a light pasta.

Flavored Pastas

“Pastas flavored with anything from black squid ink to roasted beets are served
all over Italy in both traditional and creative kitchens. My favorite variations
include puréed blanched chives, lemon thyme, golden or purple beets, roasted
red peppers, and red wine. In this country, pasta producers have taken the
concept to unfortunate extremes with such variations as licorice, strawberry,
and chocolate.
To infuse Basic Pasta with herbs or cooked vegetables, first chop or purée
them to the texture of fine flour. Incorporate the flavoring agent – two or
three tablespoons per pound of pasta – by stirring or blending it into the
eggs and carefully kneading it into the pasta as usual. The ball formed
may be too wet, in which case extended kneading with a little extra flour
may be necessary. From this point, proceed as you would with the basic
pasta recipe, being gentle in the rolling machine as flavored pastas tear
more easily.”

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(Marcella Hazan)

Cavatelli with Garlic, Crab, Chile and
Trebbiano (Mario Batali)

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