One of the main reasons for visiting our country is certainly food. From north to south, culinary excellence cannot be counted. Each region offers fantastic dishes that will satisfy all tastes in all seasons. Among these a prominent place certainly belongs to Emilia Romagna so that the Forbes magazine, in 2013, even proposes it as the region in which you eat best in the world. One of the dishes that have allowed so much fame and appreciation is definitely the tortellini in broth.
Legends about tortellini in broth
As with many traditional dishes, the origins of tortellini in broth are wrapped in different legends and their authorship is disputed between Bologna and Modena. One of these tells that in 1200 in Castelfranco Emilia, a town disputed between the two cities, a young and beautiful noble lady arrived and stopped at the “Corona” inn to rest. The innkeeper, enchanted by the beauty of the young woman, once accompanied her to the room stopped to spy on her through the keyhole remaining particularly struck by her navel. So in the evening he gave the dough he had prepared for dinner the shape of that navel that had grabbed him. Then he filled it with meat and so the tortellini were born.
Another version of this legend, told in the nineteenth century by Giuseppe Ceri in his poem, wants the divinities Bacchus, Mars and Venus to be refreshed at the “Corona” inn during a conflict between Modena and Bologna. Here, however, the innkeeper was inspired by the beauty (and navel) of Venus for his creation. This version of the legend probably originates from the poem the “Secchia rapita” by Alessandro Tassoni that, in twelve songs, tells of the rivalry between Modena and Bologna that is unleashed even for a bucket of water taken from the Modena area by the Bolognese people. Nobles, heroes and Olympian gods participate in the war. Then there are other versions of this legend and more legends.
Even at the historical level it is not easy to find a shared truth. You can find traces of tortellini since the Middle Ages. In some writings they already appear in the twelfth century: one speaks of tortelli eaten at Christmas. Then, in a recipe book, there’s one about pasta sheets filled with herbs. The testimonies follow one another in the following centuries. The first to associate a territorial denomination to this dish were the Lombards with Cristoforo Messisbugo who in 1549 proposed the Lombard tortelletti taken up with variations in the following years.
The first recipe of tortellini alla bolognese appears in 1790 by Francesco Leonardi. In any case, over time they become a dish present on the tables of all Italians in its many variations. As happened with many other dishes that we consider traditional in today’s version, the recipe has changed a lot over the years. The definitive consecration arrived on December, 7th 1974 when the “Dotta Confraternita del Tortellino” deposited the original recipe of tortellini in broth at the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna.
Recipe of tortellini in broth
The original recipe includes the use of pork loin, prosciutto, Bologna mortadella, Parmigiano Reggiano, eggs and nutmeg for the filling and flour and eggs for the dough. They will then be cooked in capon and beef broth. Let’s see how you prepare them starting with the broth.
Fill a large pot with about three liters of water and add 600 gr. of capon, 200 gr. of whitewash, 200 of brisket, 1 broth bone, 2 carrots, 1 onion, 2 ribs of celery and a bit of parsley. We rise slightly and bring to boil. Once boiling we froth, lower the heat and cook for about three hours. Once cooked, leave to cool, remove the fat that will be on the surface and filter to eliminate the solid parts.
While the broth is cooking we prepare the filling. We will use 150 gr. of pork loin, 100 gr. of mortadella, 70 gr. of ham, 150 gr. of parmesan and an egg. In a pan, brown the loin, cut into strips of a two centimeters, for a couple of minutes. Let it cool and mince the meat together with prosciutto and mortadella in a meat mincer. Add grated parmesan, salt, nutmeg and an egg. Blend all the ingredients well with your hands (or go over the meat grinder) and let it rest.
Let’s make tortellini
So let’s make the pasta. We will use three eggs, 250 gr. of flour 00 and 50 gr. of semolina flour. We mix the flours and form the classic fountain on a pastry board, in the middle we put the eggs and begin to mix with a fork. Add a pinch of salt and knead by hand for at least 10 minutes. When working with the dough it is advisable to pull it in all directions and slam it on the pastry board to increase elasticity. The dough should be very smooth and homogeneous. We wrap in the film and let it rest for at least half an hour.
At this point we spread the dough (6/10 mm are considered the ideal thickness) and cut out many squares of about 3 cm on the side. Place a spoon of the filling in the center of the squares, then fold them in half along the diagonal so as to form a triangle and close them around the finger by joining the opposite ends and pressing so as to weld the dough. Place them on a tray dusted with a bit of wheat flour. Cook them for three or four minutes in the broth and serve very hot.