Worth It/Not Worth It: Tortellini
By Ally-Jane Grossan
Tortellini needs to work on its image. When you think of tortellini, perhaps it’s of those awful mini “3 Cheese” morsels that come frozen? Or maybe it’s the delicious few you had at a trendy Italian restaurant? With emphasis on the word “few” because restaurants are often stingy with the portions when it comes to serving these delicate, handmade parcels. So basically, we’re working with tortellini that’s either spongy and barely edible from the grocery store or delicious, fleeting and expensive from a sit-down restaurant. Here’s an idea: Make them yourself.
This project started with a secret recipe. More specifically, a secret Italian grandmother recipe: a list of ingredients Elettra had emailed me a recipe that called for 100 grams (that’s a half cup) of each of the following: mortadella, Parma ham, and pork loin, cooked in butter. The recipe required the meats to be processed by hand in a meat grinder, sometimes twice. While I do possess an astounding number of kitchen gadgets and appliances, a meat grinder is not one of them. Though I love my local butcher, we aren’t close enough for me to ask him to hand grind a half pound of three different meats, twice!
So onto a recipe with less grinding from the Kitchn blog with the promise of perfection on my first try. I’ve had success with the Kitchen’s “3 Egg Pasta Dough” before so this seemed like a no-brainer. With the filling choice up to me, I decided to follow the writer’s advice and start with a ricotta base. To that I added tiny cubes of browned pancetta (that’s Italian for bacon) and a bit of fresh chopped rosemary.
Getting the dough to the perfect thickness took some maneuvering. You’ll definitely need a pasta-maker for this, using a rolling pin will cause frustration. A cookie-cutter is essential here, as every recipe, blog and cookbook I read absolutely insisted. A 3-inch one is best for larger tortellini stuffed to the gills with delicious ricotta and pancetta. The cutting and shaping process was fun and very similar to making dumplings, so if you’ve done that before, this will be a cinch. The step-by-step photo instructions are extremely helpful if you’ve never stuffed anything before.
Cooking the tortellini was easy – just lower them, a few at a time, into a pot of boiling salted water. Once you master making fresh pasta dough, this recipe is relative simple. Practice your pasta dough a few times and make sure you’re using high-quality flour. The best part? You can freeze homemade tortellini for up to three months, so eat half your batch now and save the rest for a dinner party or more likely, a late night, last minute, slightly tipsy feast.
Verdict: Worth it!