Thursday, March 01, 2018

Cappelletti di Manzo in Brodo

With the decidedly cold weather we've been experiencing, it seems like the perfect time to settle back with something warm and inviting. For me, that means a generous bowl of cappelletti in a hearty beef broth.

Before you can even start thinking about making the pasta, you need a good stock. For this recipe, I'll be using these - Beef Knees!

These knees will serve two purposes - not only will they produce an amazingly rich stock, I'll pick all the meat and combined with the vegetables used in the stock, they will be the basis of my filling.

Cappelletti di Manzo in Brodo

Beef Stock:
2 beef knees
1 carrot, peeled
1 stalk celery
1 onion

Pasta Dough:
100 grams stoneground flour ( I used Semi-Integrale Gentil Rosso flour)
100 grams semolina rimacinata
2 eggs, lightly beaten
pinch salt

Pasta Filling:
Meat and Vegetables from stock
grated parmesan
freshly grated nutmeg

Make the Beef Stock

I would normally make stock on the stove top but this time I've used an electric pressure cooker - the process remains the same just the cooking time changes.

1. Brown the beef knees on all sides, adding the vegetables near the end.
2. Cover with water until it's about an inch above the meat.
3. Add a few grains of black peppercorns and a pinch of sea salt granules.
4. Cook on High Pressure for an hour then allow it to naturally release.
5. Remove the meat and vegetables from the stock and set aside for the filling.
6. Strain the stock through muslin to remove any impurities.
7. It's ready to use now or you can pack it away in sealable tubs for future use.

As you can see, the end result is wonderfully gelatinous and rich in colour and flavour.

Make the Dough

The flours I've used for this dough are Gentil Rosso and Semolina Rimacinata. Gentil Rosso is an ancient Italian grain - classed as soft wheat, it is rich in protein but low in gluten. Semolina Rimacinata is made from hard durum wheat. The semolina will help give my dough elasticity.


Mix together the flours with a pinch of salt.

Make a well in the center and pour in the egg. Mix using your fingertips or a fork until all the flour has been absorbed by the egg - if it seems too dry, drizzle in a teaspoon of water. Keep mixing until it starts clumping together and then tip it out onto a lightly floured board. Knead until it starts feeling smooth and silky and then form into a ball.

Wrap it in clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Make the Pasta Filling

Pick all the meat from the knees and place it, along with the vegetables from the stock into a food processor and pulse until it's a rough puree. Add freshly grated nutmeg and a handful of grated parmesan - pulse again to mix through. How much nutmeg and cheese you use will depend on how much meat you were able to get from the knees - you need to keep tasting and pulsing until you get the taste you like and the texture is fairly smooth. The mixture needs to be dry and malleable. Store in a sealed container and place in the fridge to chill

Make the Cappelletti

To help get the correct size I've used this handy tool - a 28mm pasta cutter

You can always just cut the squares by eye using a normal pasta cutter - just try to keep them under 30mm in size.

You'll need to roll the dough out to about 0.5mm thickness - you can do this with a machine or as I've done here, with a rolling pin.

To make up the cappelletti - place a ball of filling in the center of the square, fold to form a triangle. Rest this triangle against a fingertip and twist the arms together to form the shape. Arrange the cappelletti on a lightly floured tea towel. Once they are all made, cover with a tea towel. After an hour, remove the towel and turn the Cappelletti over - this just ensures even drying.

I like to let them dry for at least a couple of hours before using but you could also make them the day before and let them dry overnight - they will just take a little longer to cook.

To make the soup

1. Heat the stock until it has reached boiling point
2. Add the cappelletti and stir, keep the heat high to help the stock return to that bubbling point - then turn down to a simmer.
3. Cook until just al dente then remove from the heat and let them sit in the stock for 10 minutes. This resting time makes the pasta swell and finishes the cooking so you get that lovely silky mouthfeel.
4. Serve with extra grated parmesan or as I've done here, a good shaving of Bianchetti truffle.

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