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Pouched Chicken

October 19, 2011

After the little trip to France with the last recipe, let’s head back to another beloved tourist country – Italy.  I have a profound love for Italian cuisine as well as the language, the art and the people.  I have already done some Italian-inspired recipes, however, I had yet to bring out the big guns.  The tiny pasta pouches of homemade tortellini, often also called ravioli (the two are actually different shapes).  Here they are now!

I made chicken-bacon-cheese tortellinis today, but there are lots of other stuffing variations: spinach and ricotta, ground dry salami, minced and sauteed mushrooms….

First, I fried 4 strips of bacon, cut into tiny pieces; then, on the grease of the bacon I cooked a boneless, skinless chicken breast.  You can spice it to taste – for me the combination of garlic salt, white pepper and nutmeg seems to be unbeatable, so I just stuck with that.  Once the chicken is completely cooked, and somewhat cooled, shred it with a fork, and mix it with the bacon pieces.

Shredded chicken and bacon

Shredded chicken and bacon

Add a good handful of shredded mozzarella to the mix, spice it with more salt and pepper to taste, then add a whole egg and one egg yolk to help bind the ingredients.  Stir them together well to form the filling.  I like my filling chunky like this – for a smoother finish, whir the whole mixture together in the food processor.

Filling

The filling is ready to go

In another bowl, prepare the dough.  For this much filling, I needed 3 eggs’ worth of a dough – for this, you’ll need about 1 and 1/2 cups of flour and the eggs.  Mix them together and knead it to form a firm dough.  Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before rolling it; this enables the gluten in the flour to form an elastic web – this makes the dough nice and springy.

Dough

The dough is nice and firm

And now is where the tedious part starts: we need to roll the dough as thin as possible, less than a millimeter in thickness!  It’s a lot easier to do with a pasta machine like this, but it’s not impossible with just a rolling pin either.  Cut the dough into circles – a biscuit cutter is the best and easiest method, but lacking that, just dip a wide-mouthed glass into flour, and use the edge as a cutter.  I used my short tumblers – their opening is about 2.5″.

Cutting the circles

Circles, circles everywhere

To stuff and shape the tortellinis, gently stretch the circles, then pile about half a tablespoonful of filling onto one side.  Moisten then seal the edges, forming a half-circle, then overlap and join the two “points”, forming a miter shape.

Steps to tortellini

Fill, moisten, fold and shape!

This is really the most labor-intensive part of making tortellini at home – the three-egg dough yielded me 33 circles, and the filling was just enough for that!  Lacking the patience for that, you can make raviolis instead.  For that, roll the pasta into two sheets, then drop the filling globs on one, about an inch apart.  Moisten the grid lines between the fillings, then cover the whole sheet with the other pasta.  Press the lines together, then cut down the middle of each sealed line with a crimped cutting wheel.

Tortellinis

Not even half the batch....

In a large pot, bring at least 3 quarts of water to a boil.  Add some salt, and a dash of olive oil to prevent the tortellinis sticking together.  Once the water has reached a rolling boil, drop in 8-10 tortellinis.  If they sink down to the bottom and don’t rise, give it a stir.

Floating

Floating

Since it’s fresh dough (rather than dried, which needs to be rehydrated), the tortellinis cook ready in about 8-12 minutes.  Drizzle them with olive oil before serving, or stir some pesto to them; I also like to top them with grated mozzarella cheese.

Chicken-bacon-cheese Tortellini

These tortellinis will turn out to be rather large in size – this batch will probably serve 3-4 people as a main course, 5 or 6 as an appetizer.  However, you can always freeze any uncooked pasta pouches in a zipper bag and use them later.

Enjoy your meal!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. magic_moose permalink
    October 19, 2011 12:29

    Pouched chicken? Doesn’t that start with “first you take your kangaroo…….”

    • October 19, 2011 13:39

      Moose – that’s the Aussie version of it (no offense to anyone Down Under!)….

  2. October 19, 2011 11:57

    Yummo, CN. 🙂

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