Velia’s cappelletti recipe

Cappelletti are small, meat-filled pasta parcels which always poached in a meat broth. They are well worth the effort of making at home – homemade are a flavoursome world away from shop bought ones – and it’s a task best suited to several pairs of hands if you’ve never tried it before. This recipe is based on Velia’s description of how she made the filling – exact quantities are not something that trouble Italian cooks!

For the filling:
250g beef steak
125g pork loin
125g chicken thigh meat
50g mortadella
50g Parmesan
2 egg yolks
1/4 nutmeg
grated salt and pepper

For pasta:
500g 00 all-purpose flour
5 large free-range eggs

To serve:
3 litres of good quality meat stock, grated Parmesan

A couple of hours – or the day – before you want to make the cappellettti, blitz all the ingredients to stiff paste, cover and chill you need it.

To make the pasta dough, follow Velia and make a volcano out of the flour on a large wooden surface. Break the eggs into the centre and use your fingers to break up the eggs (you could do this in a bowl beforehand, but that’s extra washing up) and then gradually incorporate the flour. Your fingers will get claggy but don’t worry about this. Eventually you’ll be able to collapse the flour volcano into the centre and once this is done and you’ve got a dough, start kneading it. You can use the dough to pick up any bits of flour. The dough will subtly change texture and feel soft but springy after about 5 to 10 minutes kneading.

Either smooth some olive oil over the ball, or wrap it in cling film to stop it from drying out – and leave it for about 30 minutes in a cool place. These days that usually means the fridge, but this isn’t necessary.

If you don’t have an extra long rolling pin, cut the dough in half and keep one under wraps (an upside down bowl will do) while you roll out the other. It’s good fun to attempt to follow Velia: flatten the ball and start rolling it. Once it’s big enough to flap it over the rolling pin, roll it back towards you, smoothing it out over the top of the pin with both hands as you go. Next flip the pin with the rolled up dough 90 degrees (so the pin is pointing directly away from you) and roll out the dough. It takes practice.

If it all gets too much, just treat it like pastry and roll it out the ‘normal’ way, but make sure you keep twisting around it for an even thickness. Stop rolling once you’ve got a sheet of dough, la sfoglia, about 2 millimetres thick.

To make the cappelletti, use a ruler and a pastry cutter to make 3cm squares of dough. Dot each one with a hazelnut size piece of filling and then fold the square to form a triangle. Squeeze the edges together and then fold the triangle around your forefinger and press the two corners together to form a ‘Little Hat’. You’ll need around 20 cappelletti per person.

Bring the meat stock to a gentle simmer pour in the cappelletti and poach them until they are cooked – this will take about 5-7 minutes – it depends on the thickness of your dough!

Let folk help themselves to the parmesan cheese.