Friday, August 14, 2009

My Blog's 1 Year Anniversary

Yesterday was By The Tun's 1-year anniversary, and it feels great looking over the last year. Strange how writing almost every other day for a year extends time: It feels as though I've always had this blog.

Kristin and I had a killer dinner last night--not to honor the blog exactly--of homemade meat-stuffed tortelloni with sage-butter sauce and a bottle of Apollonio's 2000 "Divoto."

Making your own pasta isn't as difficult as it seems. With or without a pasta maker, it's simply a matter of flour and water and getting the proportions correct (I don't like fresh egg pasta nearly as much). I use a ration of 1:4 water to flour, so, with one cup of flour I use 1/4 cup of water. 1 and 1/2 cups of flour is more than enough for two people, and Kristin and I made around 40 tortelloni from 2 cups of flour (nearly 7 seven servings: tortelloni are big tortellini). Tortelloni freezes very well, so don't worry about making too much!

Pasta:

Pile your flour (1/2 all-purpose white flour works well with 1/2 semonlina mixed in) and make a divot in the top so that it looks like a volcano. Add two pinches of salt. Slowly add a little water in the divot and swirl so that it makes a little globule of water and flour. Continue adding water slowly until all of the flour is worked together in a ball. The idea is to make the pasta dough as dry as possible without having it fall apart. Don't worry about being gentle. When it's in a ball and doesn't have too many cracks put it beneath a clean kitchen towel and clean your work station. Next, roll out the pasta. I use a wine bottle because I do not have a rolling pin or a pasta machine. It works just fine. Roll out dough as thinly as possible without having it tear. Use flour liberally so that the dough does not stick to anything.

To make tortelloni you need to have something circular with a good edge that is about 3 to 3 and 1/2 inches in diameter. I had nothing else so I used a small bowl. Punch out as many circles as possible and then combine the left over pieces of dough into a ball and repeat. This second ball is harder to roll out but try your best. If your pasta dough feels anything but dry at this point, let it sit around for half an hour to dry out--this will make it less doughy tasting.



Filling:

To make the filling we used 6 sausages. In a medium-sized pot, brown 1 chopped onion and 3 chopped cloves of garlic. Then add meat. As the meat releases a lot of broth, drain and reserve it to allow the meat to brown. If your sausage is fatty, cook longer than usual.


When completely browned, pour mixture into a bowl and add 1 egg and 1/4 cup of parsley. Mix thoroughly. Now add 1/4 cup of parmesian, 1 tsp. of salt, some freshly ground pepper, and 1/8 cup of all-purpose flour. Mix together and let cool.

Stuffing Tortelloni:

Pictures work best to show this. We have a lot of fun with it! You need a small dish of water to moisted areas of the pasta to make it stick and a floured pan to put the tortelloni on (do not let them touch).

1st, put a teaspoon of stuffing in the center of a circle of pasta dough.


Moisten 1/2 of the rim of the circle, then fold the other half over and squish so that it sticks.


Take the 2 edges of the pasta and pull together. Add artistic flare here.




When you've completed stuffing, put the pasta in the freezer for 10-15 minutes: this allows the pasta to firm.


Meanwhile, fill the largest pot you've got with water and boil. I usually cook the tortelloni 1-2 minutes after they have all floated to the top. Make sure they don't stick by stirring them once during cooking. I use a slotted spoon to remove the tortelloni when they are done rather than pouring them into a collandar to drain the water. It is ok if a little pasta water gets into the serving dishes, it mixes well with the sage-butter sauce.

Sage-butter Sauce:

Very easy. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter per person and let it to very gently brown. When it's almost completed cooking, add 10 ripped or chopped leaves of sage. Cook 30 seconds to 1 minute then immediately pour over tortelloni.


The Divoto was perfect for the meal because the tortelloni are very substantial. I recommend a Negroamaro or Nero di Troia for this meal--two of Puglia's best food wines. Otherwise, a Cabernet Sauvignon or Chianti would go very well.

Thank you all for reading over the past year! Salute!

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