Catholic Recipe: Cappelletti all'uso di Romagna
Also Called: Cappellacci, tortelli, Little Hats in the Manner of the Romans
Epiphany Eve is the setting of a tender legend. It is said that the Wise Men on their way to Bethlehem passed an old woman busily cleaning her house. When she learned where they were going, she asked them to wait until she had finished her work so she could go with them. But the Kings said they could not wait; they told her to follow them when she was ready and catch up with them. As she was a careful housekeeper and also took time to prepare a gift to take to the Child, when she finally started on her way, the others were so far ahead that she never found them. Ever since she wanders through the world, seeking the Child so that she may give Him her gift. In Italy, as Befana — a corruption of Epiphany — she leaves gifts at the houses she visits in the hope of finding the Child she seeks. A time-honored Epiphany dainty in Lombardy, Italy is Cappelletti all' uso di Romagna.
Grind the meat very fine. It is preferable to use prosciutto but ordinary plain ham may be used. Make a highly seasoned mixture with all the other ingredients. The ground meat may be sautéed in a little butter before being added. Make a paste of 1 cup flour and 1 egg (add an extra egg white if you have it): Put the flour on a board, make a hole in the middle and break in the egg. Work it with a fork until it is firm enough to work with the hands. Knead it thoroughly, adding more flour if necessary, until the paste can be rolled out. Roll as thin as possible and cut into rounds about 3 inches in diameter.
Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of each circle of paste, moisten the edges of the paste with finger dipped in water to seal it securely, and fold into little cones or hats. These cappelletti should be cooked in chicken broth for about twenty minutes. Usually they are served with the soup, but sometimes they are served separately with Mostarda di Cremona. The Italians say of it, "this is a mustard which is not," for it is made of pieces of fruit, mustard, and spices.Recipe Source: Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, David McKay Company, Inc., New York, 1951