[Sca-cooks] Lasagna and Tortelli
ddfr at daviddfriedman.com
Fri Feb 5 13:19:47 PST 2010
In an earlier post, I mentioned some puzzles associated with two
recipes in the Italian cookbook Rebecca has just translated. I think
I now have satisfactory, although not certain, answers to them.
(Due Libri di Cucine, Libro B)
He who wants to make lesanga, take good white flour and boil it in
capon broth. If it is not so much, put in some other water, and put
in some salt to boil with it, and dump it in a broad, flat bowl, and
put in enough cheese, and throw over it the cuttings of the fat of
The first time we tried this, at a recent cooking workshop, the
person who did it followed my usual rule of trying to take the recipe
as literally as possible on a first try. It didn't work very well. My
current conclusion, along lines suggested by two or three people, is
that the recipe assumes that you know you make lesanga by kneading
together flour and water and rolling or stretching out the resulting
dough, hence omits that step. The boiling is done to the pasta after
it is formed, rather than stirring flour into boiling broth.
No further cooking is mentioned, so I simply made the lesanga, cut it
into a few pieces, boiled them for ten minutes or so, put on it some
parmesan cheese and a little rendered chicken fat. Came out pretty
If you want to make torteli of meat of fresh mixed pork, boil it so
that it is cooked, and beat it with a knife so that it is very good,
and take the pot and boil it and grind it in a mortar and put in up
to six eggs that are boiled and mix with the meat and put in good
spices and put in some good dry, grated cheese, and you want to make
this pie in a pie-shell of lasagna and one should not boil it in meat
broth and it should be given for dish with a long meat pottage of
pepper, and it is good
The first time we tried this, the assumption was that it was a baked
pie, even though it doesn't say so. I tried it again in three
1. Line a pie pan with the cooked lesanga from the previous recipe,
fill it, bake it. Not very good.
2. Fill the cooked lesanga (pieces about 3"x6") with the filling and
boil it. Unworkable because the cooked lesanga sticks to itself.
3. Stuff the uncooked lesanga with the filling and boil it--taking
"tortelli" in its modern sense as stuffed pasta. Worked fine.
On further consideration, I'm pretty sure 3 is correct. For one
thing, checking the early 17th century Italian-English recipe Rebecca
has been using, I found that although one meaning of the word she
translated as "pie-shell" is indeed pie-shell, another is "skin."
Along the lines of "wonton skins," I think it plausible that the term
was used for the pasta wrapping. For another thing, the final "and it
should be given for dish with a long meat pottage of pepper" makes
more sense if these are small pastas served in a pottage than if they
are a pie served with a pottage--the cookbook doesn't generally
advise the reader as to what dishes go together.
And, finally, it works and is good.
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