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Passatelli in Brodo
1¼ hours 30 minutes active
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In the tiny village of Monteveglio, about 12 miles west of Bologna, Italy, we tasted delicious home-cooked passatelli in brodo. Paolo Parmeggiani, owner of the small restaurant/hotel Trattoria del Borgo demonstrated the dish—made with stale bread, cheese, eggs, broth and little else—which exemplifies cucina povera, or peasant cooking. Passatelli are cylindrical dumplings—like fat, short spaghetti—made by extruding dough through smallish holes; the dumplings are simply poached and served in chicken broth. We found that in lieu of a traditional passatelli maker, a potato ricer with 3/16-inch perforations works well for extruding the dough. Another alternative is to use a cooling rack with a ⅜-inch wire grid (instructions are included in the recipe). To make passatelli dough, Italian cooks use stale bread processed into breadcrumbs, but since we rarely have leftover bread, and in order to consistently produce a dough with the proper texture, we use Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs. We highly recommend using homemade chicken broth. If using purchased broth, consider upping its flavor by adding a chunk of Parmesan rind and/or ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes.
Don’t use pre-grated Parmesan or domestic Parmesan-like cheese. With so few ingredients in the passatelli, true Parmigiano Reggiano is essential for flavor. Purchase it in a chunk, not pre-grated, as the cheese loses freshness once it’s grated. Plus, if you buy a chunk, you will have a piece of rind to simmer in the broth as a flavor booster.
30 minutes active
large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
ounces Parmesan cheese without rind, cut into rough 1-inch chunks, plus shaved Parmesan to serve
cups (6½ ounces) panko breadcrumbs
teaspoon grated nutmeg, plus more to serve
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
quarts low-sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken broth (see note)
Instant Pot Chicken Broth
01In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks, ¾ cup water and 1 tablespoon of the oil. In a food processor, process the Parmesan chunks until finely ground, about 20 seconds. Add the panko, ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Process until the mixture is powdery, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, add the egg mixture, then process until smooth, about 1 minute. Let rest in the food processor for 5 minutes; the mixture will thicken as it stands.
02Process for another 10 seconds. The mixture will be thick but smooth and resemble mashed potatoes. Scrape it into a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes or refrigerate for up to 1 hour; the mixture will thicken further as it stands.
03Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment and brush the parchment with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil; set aside. In a large pot over medium-high, bring the broth to a boil. Transfer one-third of the dough to the hopper of a ricer with 3/16-inch perforations. Press the dough directly over the pot of simmering broth until it forms rough 3-inch lengths, then shake the ricer to release the dough into the broth. Repeat with the dough remaining in the ricer. (Alternatively, place a rack with a ⅜-inch wire grid across the pot of simmering broth. Scoop one-third of the dough onto the center of the rack, then use a silicone spatula to press the dough through the wires, allowing the dumplings to fall into the broth; rap the rack to release the last bits of dough into the pot.)
04Cook the passatelli until it floats to the surface, then continue to cook for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the passatelli, letting it drain, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Cook the remaining dough in two more batches in the same way, then remove the pot from the heat. Let the passatelli rest for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to help it cool; it will firm up as it cools.
05Return the broth to a simmer over medium-high, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Divide the passatelli among individual bowls and ladle in the broth. Top each serving with shaved Parmesan and grated nutmeg, then drizzle with oil.
I made this last month. It's in the pantheon. I would love to try this with matzoh meal for the coming holiday. Or matzohs processed into panko-like crumbs. Any suggestions or should I head out into this Sinai on my own? (I realize that real parmesan is probably not kosher, but do I sound like a I care about that?)
I am happily waiting for the passatelli to cool. My first batch didn't turn out as firm and puffy as the rest of the batches. The broth wasn't simmering enough. Instead of simmer, I'd say the broth is closer to a low boil. I'm adding some chicken to it since it's for lunch. Also tossing in a few peas and carrots just for giggles. I've tasted the passatelli. The consistency is like spaetzle. It almost looks like polenta in color. I used some parmsan reggiano and grana padano cheese. I thought it would taste too strong, but it does not. It's very good. It's a nice change from plain old pasta or rice in a soup.
Heads up, you missed a TK :) "We came up with a simple Instant Pot version (p. TK)"