Mugello, as I mentioned in my last post is known as the green valley of Tuscany. The Mugello territory was very much loved by the Medici family (in particular Lorenzo the Magnificent) and they left many signs of their dominance in the area, not only with their buildings (notably the Villa of Cafaggiolo in Barberino, the Castle of Trebbio in San Piero a Sieve and the Palace of the Vicari in Scarperia) but also with their presence that has remained visible in local agriculture – the fields and the woods planted with their style of geometric patterns, using their system of irrigation.
The rich natural environment was and still is perfect for hunting, providing an ideal habitat for deer, wild boar, hare, wild geese and ducks. The traditional production of the famous white and yellow potatoes, chestnuts, spelt, chick-peas and maize are still maintained by many farms in the territory as well.
Tortelli alla Mugellana, Tortelli Mugellani, or quite simply Tortelli di Patate, are soft square pillows of ravioli filled with mashed potato, cheese, garlic and parsley and have been part of the Tuscan and Romagnola diet for centuries. The particular combination of ingredients and the cooking method, has remained untouched through the ages. They were even mentioned in a poem by Pulci, from the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent in 1400 which read as follows :
The Tortello di Patate was actually created from poverty, made from the first local potato harvest in 1800 – the potato was considered a poor ingredient and this filling is a humble alternative to the more noble chestnut filling used in the Apennine areas.
As told by Pulci, these Tortelli are best enjoyed when served with a traditional ragù meat sauce accompanied with a good Tuscan red wine.
Even if these ravioli seem like an easy preparation, the preparation and the cooking requires attention. The tortello must have a soft heart inside and the pasta must also be cooked to perfection.
Here’s the recipe :
1/2 kg flour 0
5 fresh eggs
to taste a pinch of salt
FOR THE FILLING
1 kg floury potatoes
1 clove of garlic
1 sprig of fresh parsley
nutmeg to taste
qb salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Wash the potatoes well, boil with the skins on so they retain their flavour as much as possible and don’t absorb too much water. You can also bake them in the oven if you prefer.
2. Lightly fry the crushed garlic and finely chopped parsley in olive oil. Set aside.
3. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the pasta by pouring the flour on a pastry board. Make a crater in the middle and add the eggs, mixing slowly with a fork. Add a pinch of salt.
4. Knead until the pasta dough is nice and elastic, then form the dough into a ball and let it rest covered with plastic film in the fridge for 15 minutes.
5. Peel the potatoes and mash them to form a smooth puré.
6. Add salt, pepper, garlic and parsley to the potato mash.
7. Roll out your pasta dough or pass it through a pasta machine until it is nice and thin, then place about a heaped teaspoon of the mash at even intervals about 8-10cm apart, leaving a nice border at the edge.
8. Fold over the opposite edge of the pasta and press firmly around each ball of filling to remove all the air before cutting squares of 5 centimetres and decorating the edges with a fork. You can also use a special square ravioli cutter if you have one.
9. Bring water to the boil and cook tortelli making sure you don’t overcook them. Tortelli Mugellani are normally served with a meat sauce (beef, duck, rabbit or wild boar) but also quite simply with butter and sage.
I enjoyed those delicious Tortelli in the photo above last week at Il Torracchione when I visited the Barberino Designer Outlet in Barberino di Mugello. A perfect day of great food, good wine and amazing shopping – what more does a girl need!
Psst! Want some extra discounts at the Outlet?
Barberino Designer Outlet has been very kind to offer any readers of This Tuscan Life their own Fashion Passport. This will give you an extra 10% off outlet prices in participating stores (almost all of them) of items that are not on sale or in promotion. As well as the added discount, you will also receive a ‘break-time’ voucher which will offer you further discounts in the outlet’s restaurants.
Upon arrival to the outlet, head straight to the Guest Services office easily found near the first main entrance to grab your Fashion Passport and feel like a VIP! Just mention This Tuscan Life.
Here are some more of the excellent services offered at the outlet :
- You can browse the internet free of charge throughout the Centre, with the “_Barberino Free WiFi” network.
- The Centre is equipped with disabled access toilets and dedicated facilities for wheelchair users. You can borrow a wheelchair at the Guest Services – Free of charge!
- Charge your smartphone for free. Ask at the Guest Services office for more information.
- Dogs within the Centre must be on a leash. Only small dogs are admitted inside the stores and only if in their owner’s arms. Poopy bags available free of charge by the Guest Service.
- In case of bad weather, umbrellas are also available free of charge. Ask at Guest Services.
If you missed my last post about my day out with the girls lunching and shopping or want to know more about Europe’s most beautiful outlet, then you have a read here.