Friday, December 16, 2005

Tortellini in Brodo di Cappone

Tortellini in Chicken Broth

Cappone is a rooster, castrated at 4-5 months, and fattened. To be legally called Cappone, the bird must be at least 200 days old and have been castrated at least 70 days before sold. The castration of fowl was initially practiced during the Greek and Roman empires. Castration causes the rooster to fatten exceptionally well producing a higher quality of meat. It seems that the inhabitants of Delo, an island in the Agean sea, were the first to use this method about 700 BC. The practice was called "deliacus gallinarius" or the rooster of Delo. Notice the base of the Latin toward our today's "delicious"!

We could, therefore, infer that delicious things are produced with the method of Delo or castrated. I really enjoy finding out where things come from.

This practice was so important that Aristotele and Varrone, two great philosophers discussed whether or not a castration was performed properly by how the Cappone would act around hens. Cappone, which is Roman, has been widely used for centuries in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and parts of Africa.

Unfortunately I have not found Cappone in the US. Even my fantastic butcher does not have it however I am assuming that certain parts of the Northeast will be able to find Cappone. In substitution a 3-4 pound roaster hen should work. You need 2 pounds of raw meat once the bones and skin have been eliminated.

This dish is perfect for any of the Christmas meals. It is light, with simple flavors and served warm. The tortellini or ravioli can be prepared several days before and kept in the refrigerator. The broth may also be prepared before hand and heated at the last minute to cook the tortellini.I suggest you ask your butcher to debone the Cappone.

Ingredients for the filling
2 lbs Cappone (net meat weight)
2 eggs
150 grams (1/3 lb) Parmesan cheese (grated to a powder)
100 grams (1/4 lb) Mortadella
150 grams (1/3 lb) Prosciutto Crudo
ground white pepper

Ingredients for the broth
1 carrot
1 onion
1 stalk of celery

400 grams of fresh egg pasta


Remove the skin and cut the meat into pieces. Set aside about 1/4 lb of the excess meat (not part of the 2 lbs for the filling), better if the meat has more fat, for the broth. Pass the Cappone pieces, the Mortadella, and the Prosciutto in the meat grinder. One pass with a coarse grind. In a small bowl beat the 2 eggs with a fork. In a large mixing bowl place the ground meats, Parmesan cheese, add salt and pepper, and mix with the eggs. With your hands mix it all together really well.

In a stock pot place 2 quarts of water, the carrot, whole onion, celery, the pieces of fatty meat, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, drop the heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes.While the broth is cooking, use the 400 grams of fresh past to make the tortellini. Again, you can make ravioli if you do not feel comfortable forming the tortellini.

To cook bring the heat back to high. Allow the broth to come to a strong boil and place the ravioli in the broth, and cook for 6-7 minutes. Place 7-8 tortellini in a pasta bowl and ladle in the broth. Serve immediately. I suggest everyone already be at the table before you prepare the plates or this will get cold and is best when hot.

There is a variation to this. Raffaella prefers to place all of the meat in the broth and allow it to cook for 15 minutes at a strong boil. She then removes the meat necessary for the filling with a wire ladle. This will make the broth more flavorful and will bring the meat to about 170-175 degrees. She then allows the meat to cool completely before grinding together with the Mortadella and Prosciutto Crudo.


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