(a recipe from Mirella Sartori) From the “Diary of Recipes by Nancy Harmon Jenkins”
If it sometimes appears that every cook in the Mugello has a different recipe for this classic dish, that’s absolutely correct. But Tuscan food is like that, every time you turn a corner, there’s another way of doing things—and the person who’s doing it will swear that it’s the only authentic way. This is another recipe from the great Mugellese cook Mirella Settori.
This makes 10 to 12 servings.
3 pounds yellow-fleshed potatoes, well scrubbed
1⁄2 head of garlic, peeled and chopped
1⁄2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg
1⁄2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Cover the potatoes with boiling water and cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat until they are tender. Drain, and just as soon as they can be handled but while they are still hot, peel them and put them through a ricer or mash with a potato masher.
While the potatoes are cooking, make a battuto by further chopping the garlic and parsley. Cook the mixture very slowly in the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add a little salt to the pan so the vegetables will sweat out their liquid. Do not let them burn. Once the garlic is soft, add the wine and tomato paste, along with salt, pepper, and 3 tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer and let cook very slowly until the potatoes in the other pot are done—at least 10 minutes.
As soon as the potatoes are riced, mix in the soffritto (that’s the battuto once it’s cooked), taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a little nutmeg and the grated cheese. Mix together with your hands or a wooden spoon, keeping the mixture light. Set aside, covered, but do not refrigerate.
NB: When Mirella makes tortelli she mixes some of her very tasty ragu into the potatoes. Good idea.
Make a pasta dough using 1 1⁄2 pounds of flour and 6 to 8 large eggs. Add a healthy pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Knead until the dough becomes soft and elastic, then set aside to rest, covered, for at least 15 minutes.
Roll out a sheet of pasta, dot it with the potato filling, cover with another sheet of pasta, and cut in squares or rounds using a pizza cutter or a ravioli cutter. Set the tortelli on a cake rack or on a board dusted with cornmeal or semolina to keep them from sticking.
When ready to cook, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. If necessary, reheat your ragu. Drop the tortelli into the boiling water and cook until the pasta is done, about 7 to 10 minutes. Drain the tortelli and transfer to a heated platter. Serve with the ragu on top and, if you wish, a handful of grated parmigiano reggiano. Serve immediately.
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