Happy National Tortellini Day!
HAPPY NATIONAL TORTELLINI DAY!
I wanted to celebrate today with you because tortellini is one of those traditional pastas you need to know. I think any filled pasta is fun to make because you get to stuff it. What I love about tortellini: when you bite into it, it's not just plain- it's filled with delicious goodness!
Tortellini means "little cake" and originated in Emilia, Italy. It's unique shape makes creating it a fun challenge and looks awesome when serving it. It's kind of like origami, you have to learn the folding process which is not easy. It's a learn over time time pasta. I can guarantee every time you make it your technique will improve each time. If you ever have cooking trouble, Youtube is your best friend. Look up as many videos as you possibly can before making it. The first time I tried making tortellini it was relatively easy. If you can make pasta dough you can make tortellini.
I followed our nighttime lead, Memo, who assists our sous chef Zack. Memo really takes it upon himself to learn and create. It's a time consuming process to flour the dough and streth the pasta and he jsut does it well. He's only 19, but makes pasta like a 95 year old, Italian grandmother. Once I got into my grove of taking photos, there was no stopping me! I always enjoy seeing what my guys are capable of. Memo's technique and execution was perfection.
- 2.5 cups of all purpose flour
- one tablespoon of extra virgin oil
- one tablespoon of water
- four eggs
- one pinch of salt
1. Dump 3.5 cups of flour onto counter top. With two fingers make well in the middle of flour. Crack all four eggs into the well. The well has to be big enough to fit all the cracked eggs comfortably. Take a fork and beat the eggs into what would look like a scrambled egg mix. Slowly whip the fork and move the flour into the middle until it's all incorporated and you can start working the ball with you hands. Kneed the dough with your hands for five minutes until you produce a smooth dough ball. Then saran wrap the dough ball and let it rest in the fridge for one hour or a maximum of 24 hours.
2. The most difficult part is the dough. If the dough too thick then it won't taste right, it'll be too gummy. That's where the hand crank pasta roller comes in handy or you can use a rolling pin. It's about $30 for a hand crank pasta roller. Our Nello's pasta maker was imported from Italy!
Whether you're using the machine or rolling by hand, cut the dough into four equal pieces. Roll it out with you hands as much as possible before using the machine or rolling pin.
If you're using a hand crank: cut ball into four pieces, flatten with hand so it can fit in the mouth of the machine at the largest setting open. Start at the setting 10, then skip two numbers and go to 8, then go to 6, keep going until you've hit the thickness of a number 2. Because your pasta dough has to be rolled thin enough to equal one sheet of pasta when cooked in boiling water or else it'll turn out gummy or too thick. if you roll it too thin, you risk the tortellini bursting in the pasta water and completely emptying.
3. You should have a rectangle shape now, flour it well, set it off to the side. Do this with all sheets of pasta. Then use a chef's knife or mini pastry roller to cut squares that are about 2-2.5 inch. Cut as many squares as possible. Then put 1-2 teaspoons of filling. Begin wrapping pasta. Sometimes we use water if were having trouble getting the pasta to stick, it's like a glue that helps seal it.
Your tortellini should end up looking like this! A big thanks to Memo for showing us how to create the perfect Tortellini shape! Feel free to comment your questions below.
- Chef C.J.