Standing in my kitchen making fresh pasta is to me what curling up near a fireplace with a good book is to a lot of other people.
Nothing is quite so satisfying.
And so when a cold rain settled in for the weekend recently it didn't take long for me to decide what to do with myself. On Saturday morning I went and got fresh eggs from a nearby farm, because fresh eggs make better pasta than store bought. After lunch I prepared the pasta dough, wrapped it in plastic and set it in the fridge overnight to rest. By Sunday afternoon,when an even heavier storm was moving through, I was ready to get to work.
For the filling I decided to go traditional. Right here we have a raw chicken breast, an egg, a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano, breadcrumbs, fresh nutmeg, and a piece of mortadella.
The first thing to do is cut up the chicken and the mortadella (I had that hunk on hand but four slices from the deli counter should do), then run them through a food processor by themselves.
Then add about 3/4 cup of the grated cheese, maybe 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, the egg and a little ground nutmeg, plus salt and pepper.
After running all the ingredients through the food processor pinch the mixture with your fingers. It should be firm but not stiff. If it's stiff add a little milk or cream and process until fully melded.
Since there's raw poultry in the mix it's not cool to taste it to check that it's properly seasoned. So scoop out a little with a spoon and boil it in water a couple minutes. Then adjust seasonings as you like and taste test until you're happy with it.
For tortellini I roll out the pasta sheets with a machine, not by hand; on my machine I find the No. 2 setting to be the right thickness. Here I stuffed the filling into a sturdy plastic bag, cut a small hole in one corner, and am squeezing the filling onto the pasta sheets.
After doling out the filling you need to make the cuts in the pasta sheets; the individual pieces should be pretty much square.
Shaping the tortellini is basically a two-step deal. Here's the square that you start with.
All you do is fold one corner onto another. (If the dough is moist enough then the pasta ends should close up just by lightly pressing down along the edges. Otherwise use an egg wash along the edges before making the fold.)
Hold the filled pasta shell with both hands and then simply bring the two top corners together and pinch them closed.
And that is pretty much all there is to it.
Nine times out of ten I serve these the traditional way, en brodo, meaning simply in broth. Usually that means a chicken broth, and you can boil the pasta right in it rather than first boiling it in salted water.
This particular time a rather forceful companion expressed a clear desire for something a bit more colorful, and so I went with a simple fresh tomato sauce.
At times it is in one's best interest to be accommodating.