Passatelli with ragu and parmigiano sauce

I have always been fascinated by passatelli ,but never got around to actually making it.It is a type of home made pasta which is a common dish in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.Whereas Spätzle (aka Spaetzle) are made with flour,these are made with breadcrumbs.Apparently spätzle translates as little swallows in German, which makes a lot of sense when you consider the shape of both these little pastas.
Athough passatelli are not made with flour, they're classified as a pasta. It is one of the best ways to re-cycle day-old bread.  These soft, normally homemade strands of breadcrumbs, grated cheese and eggs are an ancient tradition, born in the rural low income areas of Italy where leftovers and simple foods like stale bread, cheese and eggs were used often to create tasty dishes.In the past passatelli were considered a special dish because they were made with white bread; The original recipe called for breadcrumbs and parmesan in equal measure, but in the homes of the wealthy more parmesan was used, whilst in the homes of the poor more bread!
There is no way round it,making home made pasta is nothing more than an act of love,but then again if you´ve got the time what better way to pass an afternoon.
The dough is simple enough to be made by a child and actually turns out better when it is mixed by hand.There are just three main ingredients: breadcrumbs,eggs, and grated parmesan.the dough is formed into a ball pressed through the small holes of a ricer,or an implement which Italians call ‘il ferro di passatelli’ (passatelli iron).This is actually a handheld press with holes, similar to a spaetzle maker or potato ricer. It comes out the other end in long threads,much like Play-Doh.This recipe for passatelli follows the classic recipe to a point,but instead of pressing the pasta through the ricer or colander,it is rolled out by hand into long threads and then cut into bite-size pieces.I prefer this process by far and it is a lot easier and faster too.
Like their German counterpart these little micro lovelies cook in a just a few minutes, and are great plain with browned butter or topped with slowly braised meat.Passatelli are traditionally served in broth but there are many other recipes for them like this one.As a virgin passateli maker, for my first foray I decided to skip the broth making stage and make something more familiar.
 Even bette,r passatelli are a great vehicle to carry a meat-based ragú  and accompanied by a creamy lasagne bechamelly type sauce, made by infusing parmesan rinds into heavy cream. I came across this cheesy pasta recipe whilst reading "Bread is gold" and my first reaction was that I absolutely had to make it myself!The recipe below for ragu can be changed to suit whatever meat you have to hand.I actually used a combination of pork and beef and passed on the specified chicken.
How to make passatelli.
Although passatelli appear to be simple to make because of the few ingredients required, a certain amount of skill and practice is needed to get the dough to the right consistency.If the dough isn’t right then the pasatelli ,like gnocchi .will fall apart quickly when passed thorough the press and dropped into the broth, or they won’t pass properly through the press. In order to get a good dough you have to use normal white bread, well dried and finely grated. and the ingredients must be blended with care, until you get a compact and good textured dough. The dough needs to ‘rest’ for at least two hours before being pressed through the passatelli ‘iron’
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
250g minced beef and chicken
3 medium carrots,chopped
200g celery chopped
1 medium onion chopped
400g canned peeled whole tomatoes
2 sprigs rosemary
tbsp flor de sal
1/2 tsp ground white pepper

100g parmigiano-reggiano rinds,chopped
200ml milk
1/2 cup(125ml) mascarpone
120g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated 

150g dried breadcrumbs
120g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 tsp flor de sal
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
In a medium pan,heat a tablespoon of the olive oil.add the beef and chicken and cook until lightly browned,about 7 minutes.remove from the heat and set aside.
in amedium pot,heat atablespoon of olive oil over amedium-high heat.add the carrots,celery,and onion and cook for 5 minutes.add the cooked beef and chicken,tomatoes and rosemary and gently simmer for 1 hour.Add seasoning.

In a medium pot,simmer the parmigiano rinds,milk and mascarpone over medium heat for 2o minutes.Remove from the heat and let sit for 1 hour.Return to the heat and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.Remove from the heat and add the grated cheese.Using a hand held blender,blend until smooth.Strain through afine mesh sieve and set aside.

In amedium bowl,mix together the breadcrumbs,parmigiano and flour.mix in the eggs,salt and pepper.gather into a ball,cover with plastic wrap(clingfilm)and set aside for 20 minutes.
Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil over a medium heat.push the dough through a ricer or  colander and directly into the boiling water.Cook until al dente,about 12 minutes.Drain and transfer to the pan with the ragu and gently toss to coat.alternatively roll the dough out into long threads and cut into bite size pieces,Toss into the pan of boiling water and cook immediately.
Divide the passatelli among serving bowls and drizzle with the parmigiano sauce.


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