Tortellini in capon stock is a very traditional Christmas first course in many Italian families. Tortellini, small ravioli in a ring shape, are often home made by the family women in the days before Christmas. It's a way to gather and get into the holiday spirit chatting, working and preparing delicious food!
1,5kg capon or shicken, cut in pieces
2 stalks celery
1 large onion
1 parmesan rind (optional)
2 black peppers
1 tablespoon coarse salt
3 litres water
200g beef stew meat, cubed
200g pork sirloin, cubed
120ml white wine
50g Italian mortadella
1 pinch nutmeg
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste
400g pasta flour or plain flour
4 large eggs
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
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Stock: In a large stock pot place all the ingredients and cover with 3 litres of water. Bring to light simmer and cook for 3 hours. Cover but leave a small opening.
Once ready, remove the meat from the pot and set aside (you can serve as second course with an Italian parsley sauce). Strain the stock and let cool completely. Once cold, the fat will float on the top. Remove it and place the stock in the fridge until it's time to serve. You can prepare the stock up to 2 days in advance. You can keep or discard the vegetables but definitely keep the parmesan rinds, cut in small pieces and set aside for those who want to taste it in their plate.
Filling: Melt the butter in a saucepan then add the beef and pork meat. Cook until well braised on all sides. Pour the wine and let the alcohol evaporate. Cook 20 minutes or until well browned. Cool slightly then add to a blender with mortadella, prosciutto, parmesan, egg, salt and nutmeg. Blend to make a smooth and creamy (but not runny) mix. Add 1 tablespoon milk if too dry.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing the tortellini.
Pasta Dough: Pour the flour on a working surface, make a well and place the eggs, salt and oil. With a fork, gently beat the eggs, then mix with the surrounding flour, taking from the edges of the well. Once the egg mix is completely absorbed by the flour, start kneading with your hands, for 8 to 10 minutes or until you obtain a smooth and elastic dough. Wrap in plastic wrap then let stand in a cool place for 1 hour.
Take one piece of dough an cover the remaining with plastic wrap and then with a dump cloth. Flatten the piece and pass through the thickest setting of the pasta machine. Dust with more flour, fold in half like a book and repeat 3 to 4 times - always flouring, folding and passing through the thickest setting - until the dough is smooth in texture, even in size and no longer sticky. Pass the sheet through a middle setting, then to the next to the last. If the sheet is too long, cut in half and pass though the very last setting. You will obtain 1 long or 2 shorter sheets. Cut them to the same size and transfer on a floured tablecloth.
To Assemble: Drop a few teaspoonfuls of filling spacing them apart by 2 to 3cm. With a ravioli cutter, cut around the filling in a grid pattern to get some squares. Brush the edges with some water.
Fold each square in a triangle, press to squeeze off the air and seal well. Then, fold the triangle tip towards outside, wrap the 2 sides around your finger and seal.
First the process of hand forging will take a while, but with practice it will get faster and easier. Proceed the same way up to finish your filling and your dough. Consider you will need about 30 tortellini for one portion.
Once ready, transfer the tortellini on a floured tray or tablecloth, sprinkle with more flour and let stand for 1 hour before using. If preparing 1 day in advance, cover with a clean towel and let stand until it's time to use.
To Serve: Remove the stock from fridge, remove more floating fat (if any) and bring to boil. Taste to decide if and how much to season with more salt. Once boiling, add the tortellini and cook for 5 minutes or until all float. Taste towards the end.
Serve the tortellini with a generous ladle of meat stock and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.