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Cappelletti reggiani


cappelletti-reggio-emiliaThe people in Reggio Emilia are very proud of this pasta, whose particular feature is its filling which can vary by province or region. Within the Reggiana tradition, the recipe varies slightly from family to family and location to location (mountains, plains, and capital city), such as how the dimension of the cappelletti tends to increase as you move into the plains area.

The cappelletto, appetizing and irresistible, is perfect with broth, even if it is also quite good with meat sauce (ragù) or cream. Hidden behind its outward appearance, there is a little malice, rendering it seductive, in particular with regards to men. According to a legend which has its roots in the verses of Alessandro Tassoni entitled “Stolen Bucket”, Venus, Mars and Bacchus, while they were wandering about the earth, stopped to eat in a small restaurant. The next morning, the gods of wine (Bacchus) and of war (Mars) got up very early in order to admire the sunrise, while Venus, a little bit more of a sleepyhead, remained in bed. When the goddess woke up, she was amazed to find herself alone, but as she was a little hungry, she summoned the cook.

This man, upon seeing her magnificent body, was so out of sorts that he shut himself in the kitchen, set on reproducing at least one physical feature of the goddess. With a great fervor, he began to make the pasta dough (sfoglia) and cut out many little squares. Next, he filled them with meat and then closed them by wrapping them around his finger. His was by now exhausted, but “by imitating Venus’ bellybutton, the art of making tortellini was born.” For those who do not believe in mythology, let us just say that the name “cappello” (hat) derives from both the form of the little hats that people in the Middle Ages wore, along with a specific helmet, used by Italian grenadiers similar in form to a papal hat.

Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients: for the filling: 2 small onions, 150 grams of butter, one rib steak or other type of beef equally as flavorful, 70 g of mixed prosciutto, 60 g of filet or ground pork, 90 g of veal or turkey or chicken, liver, or giblets, one clove of garlic (optional), nutmeg, grated parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs, all to taste. For the pasta: 500 g of flour - 4 eggs, warm water

Preparation: in a pot, let the butter melt with the onion and a little salt and pepper. Cut the meat into pieces and put it into the pot with the butter, and let it cook slowly, covered. When the pieces are softly cooked, but not dried out, dice everything into tiny pieces. Add an egg and bread crumbs, and three gratings of parmesan. The parmesan cheese is the most important component; therefore it must be of the highest quality and very tasty. Remember: the bread crumbs, along with a pinch of nutmeg, must be previously roasted in the remaining juices of the meat before being added to the other ingredients. Preparing the pasta: Mix the flour with the eggs, a pinch of salt and a little water, kneed the dough very hard until it becomes smooth, elastic, and even; then wrap it in a towel and let it sit for 30 minutes. Next, kneed the dough again, and then roll it out with a rolling pin until it becomes very thin. Cut the pasta into approximately 5x5 cm squares – it is the form of the pasta that identifies which type it is – add the “pesto” or filling, close the square along the diagonal thus forming a triangle, and push the edges together to close the pasta well. Then wrap the pasta around your finger to close it again and give it its notorious shape. For every Cappelletto you must use two hands to close it and in one plate with meat broth you will need about 40 of those little buggers!

Notes: In the plains region, it is custom to offer a few cappelletti cooked with a little broth and a bit of Lambrusco as an appetizer. If a little bit of “sfoglia” remains, you can make tagliatelle which can be kept in a cool dry place

Suggested red wine Lambrusco Reggiano DOC


Recipe sent by: Redazione di Reggio Emilia

Last modified Dec 10, 2015

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