Day 46: Tortellini in Brodo

Day 46: Tortellini in Brodo

inspired by Locanda Locatelli

Let’s talk bucket lists. Specifically restaurant bucket lists. Any one else have one of those?

I’m not talking about restaurants that you have heard are good and keep meaning to go to. Nor am I talking about the latest new opening that will have people queuing for hours.

No a bucket list restaurant is something really special. These are the places you save for special occasions. Or you travel, just to go to this restaurant. These are you restaurant life goals. They don’t have to be pricey places (although they quite often are).

I want to eat Basque cheesecake at La Viña in San Sebastián. That is on my bucket list. It’s not expensive. But if you take into account the cost of getting to Spain then it definitely is. We almost made it earlier this year. We will get there. Someday.

But closer to home, somewhere else on my bucket list in Locanda Locatelli.

Giorgio Locatelli’s “Made in Italy” and “Made in Sicily” are some of the grubbiest cook books I own. That means they are the ones that get used the most. Pulled off the shelves and taken into messy kitchens (I am not a tidy chef!). I always think a sign of a good cook book is that it’s covered in food stains.

Since lockdown these books have been coming off the shelves more and more. Sometimes they go into the kitchen. But just as often I will sit down with a cup of tea and flick through them. I have actually started reading cookbooks.

And in the foreword to his “Made in Italy” this is what I read this morning.

“In the UK it is easy to blame supermarkets for clocking up air miles, for persuading us that we want fruit and vegetables that look perfect, but often have little flavour; for luring us on to diets of things that as salty, fatty, sugary and easy to eat; for packaging everything into convenient parcels so that we almost forget where our food comes from; and conditioning us to think that as long as food is cheap, we are satisfied. But we have responsibilities too, and we have the power to change things.”

Giorgio Locatelli – “Made in Italy”

I am, very slowly, trying to change my shopping habits. This pandemic has made us all stop and evaluate how we live. And part of that is how we shop. More and more people are finding alternatives to supermarkets. Whether it be veg boxes, online deliveries or shopping more locally.

However its hard to balance wanting to shop better with a budget. Especially in London, shopping local can often mean a trendy deli which charges £3 for eggs. Or the hipster greengrocers where you will pay triple for an onion. I really can’t justify that.

But I’m learning it is possible to shop better without it breaking the bank.

My Fresh Cornish Fish delivery worked out cheaper per fish portion than buying in the supermarket. So as long as you can afford to buy a decent supply of fish in one go (and have space in your freezer) this will save you money.

I’ve also discovered that my local corner shop not only sell fresher herbs and fruit than the supermarket, but quite often they are cheaper. And less pointless packaging too.

I’m realistic. I will still go to the supermarket. For me to get to a local butchers or (hipster) greengrocers it would be a 45 minute walk. We don’t drive.

I would also go past two supermarkets on the way.

I’m going to walk to the butchers this week if lockdown gets relaxed. I can justify spending more on meat when you know the welfare and provenance of the food is so much better.

But if I don’t get onions in my weekly Oddbox I will keep getting them from the supermarket. Sorry hipster greengrocers.

So with my veg box, fish delivery and milkman I feel like I’ve become less reliant on the supermarkets. I choose to go there to buy basics. But I don’t feel like I’m just buying out of convenience anymore.

As I move forward I have to also realise it’s not just about buying better. It’s about buying less, making things go further and eliminating waste.

And I can’t think of a better dish to demonstrate this than

“Tortellini in Brodo – Meat Parcels in a Clear Broth”

Which just happens to also be on the menu at Locanda Locatelli.

In Locatelli’s “Made in Italy” the recipe is actually “Chicken Parcels in a Clear Broth” but in the spirit of making food go further I’m using pork. I’ve got a bit of pork shoulder left from my disastrous attempt at Char Sui the other day. Yes I admit this piece of pork came from the supermarket. But I’m still going to make sure I use every last bit.

Locatelli’s recipe starts with taking the chicken breast and blitzing until smooth in a food processor. This seems strange to me. To blend raw meat. I’m not sure my processor is up to pureeing this pork shoulder, as it’s fattier than a chicken breast.

In the end I finely dice it, so it resembles a rough kind of mince. I fry it in some leftover bacon fat (we had bacon sandwiches for lunch, look how thrifty I am!) with some garlic and oregano and then add a little white wine. Bubble away and then leave to cool. Then I add in chopped prosciutto (Locatelli also adds Mortadella but I don’t have any of this).

I use Locatelli’s pasta recipe. Rather than just using whole eggs he uses a mix of eggs and egg yolks. It makes the pasta lighter in texture and richer in taste. Which is perfect. The egg white goes into the cooled pork mix with some fresh parsley to help it bind together. No waste here either.

The chicken stock has defrosted overnight. I now make stock whenever we roast a chicken. So this, again, is using up every last bit of an ingredient.

Rolling the pasta out proves a challenge. Not because I can’t get it super thin. I can.

The problem is where do I put it when I’ve rolled it out?

I improvise.

I’m not sure Giorgio hangs his pasta over his oven door handles. But it works pretty well!

And I manage to shape the pasta parcels better than my first attempt making mushroom tortellini (wow that was Day 2, so long ago now!).

It’s not the quickest dinner in the world. Shaping the pasta takes time and patience. But it’s really enjoyable. Almost as therapeutic as stirring a risotto. No wonder Italians look so happy and relaxed most of the time.

Once the chicken stock has come to a gentle boil just drop the tortellini in and cook for 4-5minutes. Serve with fresh parsley and parmesan.

I realise I don’t really have bowls big enough. Quite how I have managed to never own proper pasta bowls when I eat so much of the stuff is a mystery.

We make do dividing the tortellini between bowls and pouring as much of the broth on top as they will hold. I think the tortellini should really be floating in the broth. My pasta parcels look more like they are having a bath than swimming in the stock. But that doesn’t bother me.

The generous grating of parmesan, I realise, is probably the most expensive part of this dinner. If I keep eating this frugally I will be able to afford a dinner at Locanda Locatelli in no time!

How were they? Really good. But I can now see why Locatelli puts a chicken breast in a food processor. As much as my filling tastes lovely, the texture is a bit too coarse and heavy for such a delicate dish.

I’ll make this again. But next time I’ll follow his recipe. Which means Locatelli’s cookbook is going to get another outing.

And probably a little bit grubbier.

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