Tortellini en brodo (Tortellini in Broth) is a simple dish from the North of Italy which is traditionally served at Christmas
As is often the case with Italian food simplicity means more. Again and again I have witnessed the Italian way of using quality ingredients, simply cooked. Tortellini en brodo – or tortellini in broth, popular in the North of Italy is no exception. This simple dish is often served as a first course at Christmas, although it remains popular and on menus throughout the year.
I first ate tortellini en brodo in Bologna (the home of the Mortadella sausage) last year, in a charming, but unassuming osteria where it was their prided speciality and was ordered by most guests. Unlike in many British towns, towns in Italy such as Bologna are fortunate to have many small, family run food shops in the narrow shaded streets, many selling their homemade tortellini. My Italian friend Nicky told me that her mother will buy Tortellini from a very similar shop and bring it back to London and freeze it for their Christmas bowl of tortellini en brodo.
When I travel I always bring back edible souvenirs, so I can try and replicate the meals I ate at home to bring back happy memories, and to inspire planning for the next trip. For ease of transportation, I tend to stick to non perishable souvenirs. Giovanni Rana is one of Italy’s favourite fresh pastas, this artisan, authentically Italian pasta has been made in Verona for over 50 years and can be bought in the UK.
I used the Giovanni Rana cappelletti (meaning little hats, and a cousin of the tortellini) to make my version of the comforting tortellini en brodo, served with a ladle from a large bowl, just like in that little osteria back in Bologna.
Pasta needs room to cook, and a common mistake is to use too small a pan. I always cook pasta in my largest saucepan, even when cooking for one. Salt the water and allow it to come to a rolling boil, add the pasta and then turn it down to a simmer. Read the cooking instructions these little cappelletti only need a minute to cook. Once they are cooked they will puff up slightly and rise to the surface. Fresh pasta is delicate once cooked so rather than tipping into a sieve remove your pasta with a slotted spoon, and gently shake to drain. Serve with a little butter, Parmesan, or Grana Padano – less is more, so do not overwhelm and drench your pasta with sauce and cheese.
- 2 free range chicken thighs
- 1 small onion - peeled and halved
- 1 stick celery - roughly chopped
- 2 small carrots - peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 sprig parsley
- 5 cm square piece hard cheese rind Parmesan or Grana Padano are ideal
- few pepper corns
- 750 ml | 3 cups water
- 1 packet Giovanni Rana Cappelletti - cooked for one minute or as per packet instructions
Place all the ingredients for the broth into a large, heavy saucepan with a tightly fitting lid, and bring to a gentle simmer.
Put the lid on the pan, turn the heat right down (use a diffuser ring if needed) and allow to cook for 2 and a half hours until the chicken is falling part and you have a fragrant, but delicate broth.
Strain through a cheese cloth lined sieve into a clean pan.
Reheat to broth to a gentle simmer whilst you cook the pasta.
To serve pour the broth into a bowl and add the Giovanna Rana pasta
Prepare the broth in advance and keep in the fridge for a day, or freeze for up to two months.
Appreciate the essence of real Italy with Giovanni Rana. #LiveItalian. www.liveitalian.co.uk
Tortellini en brodo recipe commissioned by Giovanni Rana. All opinions our own.