One must-serve course at the Christmas lunch table is cappelletti in brodo (‘little hats’ in a meaty, clear broth). Even though cappelletti are originally from Emilia-Romagna, you’ll see them at many Roman holiday tables too.
They are tiny pasta cushions stuffed with a varied and rich mixture of ground meats and a good hit of Parmigiano. The store-bought version is widely accepted, since cappelletti require a maddening patience only nonnas still seem to have.
The only difference between cappelletti and tortellini (if there’s any at all) is that tortellini tend to have more pronounced holes in the middle and the corners point up like crowns.
On the other hand, cappelletti (which means “little hats” in Italian) have almost no holes and the brims of the hats are low like peasant caps. They’re both made basically the same way.
The broth is critical to the recipe – traditionally it is a combination of capon with a touch of beef. Brodo di Cappone is rich and full-bodied, just the kind of broth needed to complement homemade cappelletti.
A capon is a rooster that has been castrated, and slaughtered before it is 1 year old. The meat is very flavorful with a good deal more white meat than turkey. Capons can be ordered fresh in your grocery store or by your butcher – they can also be found in the frozen meat section.
Battle on – The Generalissimo