Today is “T” day for the A to Z blogging challenge and T is for Tortellini.
Growing up in the South usually suggests a childhood of southern cuisine staples like biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, and okra. But my mother was born in Italy. Verona to be exact. And for me, growing up meant being exposed to two very different culinary cultures.
My favorite meal is homemade tortellini. During my childhood, it was served for Christmas, birthdays, and other special events. Over the years, my mother’s hands have become less willing to cooperate when it comes to making the meal. So whenever my sister, my niece, or I can step in and help, we do and it keeps the recipe and tradition alive.
Earlier this month, I celebrated my birthday. When my family asked what I wanted, I said, “To make tortellini.” We snapped pictures as we worked so I could share the process.
Here is the recipe I grew up preparing and then devouring.
1 lb lean ground beef, 8 oz. ground sausage, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion salt, 1 egg (mix these items together in a bowl and set aside. I prefer mixing by hand to ensure all ingredients are well blended.)
Dough (You will make several batches of this.)
eggs (left at room temperature for 30 minutes), salt, regular flour, and olive oil for kneading
In a small bowl, add 1/2 cup of all purpose flour. Add 1 egg, 1 1/2 tablespoon of water, and 1/4 tsp salt. Mix the ingredients together into a paste, adding flour as needed to make the dough thicker. Once blended, add olive oil to your hands and knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is elastic and pliable. You may need to add a little flour as you go if the dough is tacky. (If you have a dough machine, you can use a standard dough recipe or double or triple the recipe above.)
Once the dough has been kneaded, roll it on a clean and floured surface using a rolling pin. As you roll the dough, continue to smooth a little flour on each side and flip the dough over. Be careful not to roll the dough too thin or allow it to stick to the table. Continue to lightly flour until the dough is thin, but not translucent, and can still be picked up.
Next, cut the dough into small rectangles. I use a pastry cutter to do this. My rectangles are usually closer to parallelograms and are about 2 1/5 inches by 2 1/5 inches.
Pick up a square of dough and add almost a teaspoon of the meat mixture and near the corner of the dough.
Fold the corner over and roll the dough around the meat ball into a log shape.
Wrap the two ends of dough around the tip of your finger and pinch the ends together. (If meat breaks through the dough, the dough may be too thin or you may be pulling too tightly. Patch any holes by pinching the dough together.)
Once all the rectangles have been filled and rolled, make another batch of dough. Repeat steps above. (We usually make 4 to 6 eggs of dough each time we prepare tortellini. Depending upon the size of the dough rectangles, you can make between twenty-five and forty tortellini per dough recipe. )
Once all the tortellini have been made, put 4 to 6 quarts of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Add salt and olive oil to the water. When the water reaches a rapid boil, add the tortellini. Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes. Check the center of a large tortellini to insured doneness. (They will begin to float as they cook.)
Do you have a favorite food from your childhood?