Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tortellini al Ragù di Salsicce

Tortellini are stuffed pasta shells akin to ravioli.  As such, they can be used in much the same way.  I was originally planning to make a simple marinara sauce for these tortellini, but ended up throwing the extra sausage into the pot after I got tired of folding the shells - thus another ragù recipe.  Ragù, I have found (thanks to Becky), simply means "meat sauce" so there is really no true ragù recipe.  Feel free to use your favorite pasta sauce in place of this ragù as well.

If you start the sauce before the pasta, the sauce will be nice and thick by the time the tortellini are ready.  If you happen to have a stick blender - and if you prefer a smoother sauce - purée the sauce before adding the sausage.  A double batch of fresh pasta dough recipe yields around 40 tortellini so you will be busy for a couple hours - unless you can find someone to help you out.

  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • Handful of basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 c. Chianti
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, separated
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 batches fresh pasta dough
  1. Toss in the carrot, onion and garlic into a pot on medium-high heat with some extra virgin olive oil, cooking until tender
  2. Mix in the tomatoes and basil with about a cup of water
  3. Add the black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
  4. Bring to a boil
  5. Add the wine and reduce heat to a simmer
  6. In a separate pan, brown the sausage through
  7. Transfer the cooked sausage to a paper towel covered plate to strain out the excess grease
  8. When the sausage is cool enough to handle, transfer to a cutting board and mince
  9. Combine 3/4 of the sausage, egg and parmesan cheese in a bowl, mixing well
  10. Add the remaining 1/4 of the sausage to the simmering sauce
  11. To make the pasta, roll out a small piece of dough very thin and cut into 2" squares (fig. 1)
  12. Add a small portion of the sausage filling to the center of the pasta (fig. 2)
  13. Fold the pasta in half diagonally and seal the edges with your fingers (fig. 3).  Keep a cup of water nearby to help seal the edges if your pasta is too floury or dry
  14. Place the pasta between your thumb and forefinger with the triangle tip up and fold the two wings around your thumb, sealing them together (fig. 4)
  15. Tuck the tip down into the folded wings and gently flour before placing with the rest of the tortellini (fig. 5)
  16. To cook the tortellini, gently place them one by one into a boiling pot of water, making sure to give each of them plenty of room
  17. Remove when they float to the surface (2 - 4 minutes)
  18. Serve in a bowl with a ladle of sauce and a fresh grating of parmesan cheese

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