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Potato Tortelli with Brown Butter Recipe

An improvisation on the wondrous food turned out by the poor kitchens of wartime Bologna, these satisfying pillows are even more satisfying than a five star hotel bed.
Tortelli Recipe
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

When I first made these tortelli at Po, all of my New York friends jokingly called them pierogi because they resemble that Russian delicacy, in look and flavor. However, they are much less chewy and are never served with sour cream.

Servings: 6
Prep: 35 minutes
Total: 2 hours


for the pasta:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

for the filling:
4 russet potatoes
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano ­Reggiano
3/4 cup chopped chives
2 extra­-large eggs
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 sage leaves
Juice of 1/2 lemon



1. Mound the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs and olive oil. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and oil and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. Once the dough starts to come together, knead it gently with both hands for about 5 minutes. The dough will be elastic and slightly sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Bring potatoes to a boil in a pot of generously salted water. Cook until tender, about 40 to 50 minutes, then peel while still warm.

3. Bring about 6 quarts of water to a boil and add about 2 tablespoons salt.

4. In a large mixing bowl, crush the potatoes with a masher until smooth. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese, 1/2 cup of the chives, the eggs, and nutmeg and mix well.

5. Roll out the pasta to the thinnest setting and cut into 4-­inch squares. Place 1 tablespoon potato mixture in the center of each square and fold to form triangles, pressing firmly to seal. Bring the opposite points of the triangle together and press firmly to join. Continue until all the pasta is stuffed and formed into tortelli. Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until tender, 6 to 7 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium­-high and cook until a golden brown color (noisette) appears in the thinnest liquid.

7. Add the sage leaves and remove from the heat, then stir in the lemon juice. Drain the tortelli well, gently pour into the sauté pan, and return to the heat. Add the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and 1/4 cup of chives. Toss to coat, and serve immediately.

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