Sunday, 5 February 2012

Cappelletti in brodo

This dish always reminds me of my husband's gran, Nonna Elsa, who would spend the whole Christmas eve by the stove, making the brodo (broth), adding three types of meat, herbs and veg in a special order, stirring, skimming the foam from the surface.
The wonderfully rich flavours and aromas of this dish, its warmth are just the right remedy to stay warm in this cold weather.
Tortellini in brodo is a speciality of Bologna, in Ferrara they cook cappelletti, which is in my understanding the same type of filled pasta, only in smaller size, sort of mini-tortellini (please forgive me, if I am simplifying it).
Pasta in brodo is a real comfort food, and is perfect on a cold snowy day like today.
To prepare the authentic brodo you will need
1 chicken leg (or 2-3 drumsticks)
1 piece of beef, about 400g (or 2 beef shanks)
1 marrow bone (optional)
1 celery rib
1 medium carrot
1 onion
a rind of Parmesan
First add the beef and the bone to the stockpot with the cold water, parmesan rind and vegetables (just peel the carrot, and cut into 2-3 big chunks, slice the celery into 2-3 pieces, peel the onion but add it whole to the pot). Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for a couple of hours, keep checking the level of water, add more and skim the foam. Add a piece of chicken and cook for another hour or more.
Add salt, once cooked, pour through a fine mesh strainer into the other pot.

As I mentioned above, the marrow bone is optional. You can make the broth without it. It adds to the depth of the flavour, but the broth is also much more fatty with the marrow bone, so if you count calories or your stomach is too gentle, don't bother with the bone.

You can eat the cold meats with the mustard or horseradish the next day. My in-laws usually serve the cold meats with the mostarda di frutta, which looks very pretty and innocent, but its looks are deceptive, as it has a very strong bite. Basically this is an Italian relish of sugared fruit in mustard.

Mostarda di frutta is available from Waitrose, it costs £5.99. It is a lovely alternative to the English mustard, and looks much prettier too.

Returning to our dish of cappelletti: you can of course make your own pasta, and if you do, I salute you. I don't. As far as I know, my mother-in-law doesn't either. Of course, in Italy it is common to buy the homemade pasta from the pasta makers, who have small businesses of making their own pasta and selling it in the neighbourhood. As we don't have anyone in the neighbourhood with the enthusiasm for the homemade pasta, so our cappelletti come from the supermarket (Waitrose and Sainsbury's both sell pretty decent fresh pasta).
To prepare the cappelletti in brodo, bring the broth to the boil in the big pot, add cappelletti and cook for about 4-5 minutes (taste them, they should be al dente).  Serve in deep soup bowls. If you want, add a bit of grated parmesan on top. enjoy!

You can also swap the cappelletti for tortellini.

Adding my dish to the Slow Sunday on Lavender and Lovage blog.

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