Capodanno, Cappelletti and Red Underwear
Although my mother was Sicilian, she learned to cook many a dish from our paternal grandmother who hailed from Emilia-Romagna. One of these specialities is a dish that we traditionally have on New Year’s Day – Cappelletti in Brodo. Cappelletti are very similar to tortellini except the pasta is cut square rather than round which allows you to shape them into little hats with a point – which is what their name means in English “little hats”. With the best intentions, we would help my mom shape the little hats but never fail, after making hundreds, they started to look less and less like hats and more and more like round blobs. This New Year’s Day, we will be out of town but needed my fill of cappelletti so I spent a peaceful afternoon making them for dinner last eve. These indeed are time consuming but so worth the effort. If you can convince your friends or family to join in the fun, it goes much faster. In a pinch, you could probably use canned stock and wonton wrappers (my mother and grandmother probably just fainted up in heaven as I typed that last sentence ) but there is something special about the entire process of making homemade stock and pasta – taking the simplest of ingredients and transforming them into a soul warming dish.
May you all have a wonderful and peaceful New Year filled with much love and prosperity. ‘Vive bene, spesso l’amore, di risata molto’- Live well, love often, laugh alot.
And don’t forget to wear your red underwear on New Year’s Eve. It is said to ward off the Evil Eye and bring much luck in the new year! Buon Capodanno, tutti! xo
Cappelletti in Brodo
For the filling:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound boneless pork cutlet, cut into small chunks
1/2 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into small chunks
2 ounces prosciutto crudo, diced
1 large egg
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the dough:
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 to 3 1/2 cups of ’00′ or all-purpose flour
2 quarts chicken broth – homemade if possible
Make the filling: Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan over low heat until melted. Add the pork and chicken to the pan and cook until no longer pink and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add in the prosciutto crudo and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from heat. Let it cool. Transfer to a food processor and blend until ground and mixed together. Transfer to a bowl. Mix in the egg and Parmigiano. Add in the lemon zest, and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Make the dough: Place the eggs and oil in the food processor. Blend to combine. Gradually add in the first 3 cups of flour until the dough comes together and forms a ball. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky or a bit of water (one tablespoon at a time) if the dough is too dry. You want the dough to be soft and pliable. Place the ball on a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
Cut the ball into 4 pieces and keep the remaining dough covered. Take each piece and flatten with the palm of your hands. Roll through the pasta machine until thin. I usually go from setting 1 to setting 5. I find setting 6 is too thin. Cut the rolled out dough to be roughly 1 to 1 1/2 inch wide. Trim if not and save the scraps to re-roll for more cappelletti. On each rolled out piece, place about a 1/2 teaspoon of filling down the center of the dough, spaced about 1 inch apart. Cut the dough between the filling – you should have about 1 to 1 1/2 inch square pieces of dough. Fold the square in half to form a triangle, enclosing the filling. Keep a little bowl of water nearby and using your finger, brush a little bit of water along the edges to help seal the dough. Seal the triangle and then fold the two ends of the triangle back and over each other to form a little hat. Place the cappelletti on a baking tray sprinkled with semolina or flour. Careful not to let them touch or they will stick. (To freeze, place the tray in the freezer until the cappelletti are frozen. Transfer them to plastic bags and use as needed.) Allow to dry for several hours.
Make the soup: Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add in the cappelletti and allow to cook until they float to the top, about 10 minutes. Serve with the broth and sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Buon appetito!