One day an innkeeper was keeping his inn on the Bolognan hillside. In walked this tall guy with a lightning bolt and his smoking hot wifey. As the couple began to complain about ruling the earth and trying to convince Cupid to put on some pants, the innkeep realized the couple was none other than Zeus and his dime-brizzle Venus. I guess Mount Olympus was all booked this particular night (Priceline.com wasn’t around yet) so they decided to stay the night.
As the gods crashed for the evening the inkeeper, so entranced with Venus’ gold-laced romper, snuck a peak into the couples room thru the key hole. Thru the naughty little slot our humble hero saw Venus sprawled across the bed, sheets tossed aside rocking her birthday suite. For some reason the inkeep found her navel the most interesting part of her heavenly form and decided to pay tribute to it’s beauty.
But what to make? He was a lonely, illeterate innkeep. In a moment of sheer inspiration the keeper ran to the kitchen and transformed pasta, the humblest of foods, into a miniature trophy of the goddesses gorgeous love button. After that I guess he ate it..weird.
Well, that’s how the story goes (give or take a few details…) but my point is that Tortellini or “little turnovers” are as comforting, if not more so, than curling up in Venus’ nooks and crannies. You may have had them smothered in heavy, thick sauces yielding a messy lump of dough and sauce but fear not my friends. Follow my riff on the original recipe below and you’ll never go back to Chicken Noodle when you’re feeling down and out:
Tortellini in Brodo
NOTE: Traditionally this dish is all about hand-crafted ingredients, ie. hand rolled pasta, slow cooked filling, and rich homemade stock. Ideal, yes, but this will get you close.
1 lb Tortellini (meat or cheese, frozen are best unless you can find day-fresh)
1 Qt. Chicken Stock (Super-Quality is key, don’t skimp here – it’s like $1 for the good stuff)
1 Cup Water
1 Cheese Rind (Parmiggiano is best, but any hard salty cheese will do)
Salt, Pepper, Grating Cheese
Start by combining your stock, water, and cheese rind in a large pot. No matter how good your stock is, if it’s store-bought it will be pretty salty (even low sodium). The cup of water helps dilute the mix and keeps you in control of the salt level.
Bring to a soft boil and add your tortellini. The frozen variety will take about 10 minutes to cook thru and float to the top, but fresh will take almost no time at all. Once your pasta is tender ( you’re not looking for al dente here but also not mushy), taste for seasoning, and ladle into a deep bowl, sprinkle with grated parmiggiano or grana padano, a crack or two of black pepper and you’re done.
The broth is hot, the pasta soft and oozy, the cheese coats each tortellino and the black pepper keeps the dish bright and awake. There’s really nothing better when you’re feeling a little less than 100% and you need something to make you feel warm and fuzzy all over (in leu of a naked goddess).
All I can say is thank Zeus for stopping into that inn so long ago and our sketchy little inkeep for sneaking a peak. Bravo good sir, bravo!
Paulie’s Spark Notes: 1. Boil some stock 2. Add some tortellini 3. Shower in cheese and mangia