The bitter tortelli are a typical dish of Castel Goffredo, in the province of Mantua. They are called so because of the particular grass that is put in the filling
The Italian culinary tradition is so rich that sometimes there are recipes that do not exceed the limits of a municipality. This is the case of the bitter tortelli of Castel Goffredo, an ancient dish and very "cooked" by the castellans, but until recently not very well known outside the home. The recent history of this small town in the province of Mantua is closely linked to that of stockings. Even today, most of the yarns and tights that cover the legs of thousands of women come right from here. However, the industrial dimension is relegated to the periphery. Crossing the narrow streets of the historic center, from the mouths of its inhabitants and from the menus of its trattorias, one realizes that it is rather this that dominates the scene. particular stuffed pasta.
Tortelli bitters, the origin of the name
They are called that for the presence in the filling of St. Peter's grass, also commonly known as "Bitter herb". The scientific name is Balsamita major, it blooms around the end of June, when the Saint's anniversary falls (June 29th). The plant is part of the family of aromatic-balsamic and has, as you may have guessed, a pleasant bitter aftertaste. The recipe has been handed down from generation to generation, but mostly orally. There is very little literature on this subject, apart from a few cookbooks preserved in the beliefs of older housewives who, they assure, have always made these tortelli.
It's a short step from pumpkin to bitter grass
In the nearby Mantova, the dough is filled with pumpkin and their tortelli are famous throughout Italy. Here, in Castel Goffredo, instead we put this particular grass that still grows spontaneously in the gardens and in the vegetable gardens of the houses. The idea of replace the cucurbitaceae with the aromatic plant it must have come to some housewife who, in times of thin, with the little she had, will have worked to create a new dish. The fame is not comparable to that of the Mantuan tortelli, but lately also bitter ravioli are starting to come out.
In the recipe "publishes" all the ingredients
Only some of the "risidure" (dialectal term to define the women who run the house) know the original recipe, which, however, they keep jealously secret to reserve the true dish to friends and relatives. The following is the public version. For the pastry it takes 300 grams of 00 flour, three eggs and one yolk. The ingredients for the stuffing are: 600 grams of herbs, 80 grams of butter, 50 grams of sage, an egg, an onion, a clove of garlic, 20 leaves of bitter herb, 40 grams of grated bread, 80 grams of grana padano, salt pepper and nutmeg.
Here's how to prepare the filling
First clean and blanch the herbs in salt water. Then drain them, trying to remove all the excess liquid, and cut them – not too fine – with the knife. Fry in butter the sage, onion and garlic. Once the herbs have also been seasoned, combine them in a bowl with the eggs, Grana Padano cheese, breadcrumbs, sage, onion and garlic, nutmeg, pepper and salt. Mix everything and finally add the raw chopped bitter herb. Prepare the dough of egg pasta cut into squares, fill with a teaspoon of filling and fold into a triangle. Cook in salted water and serve with a sprinkling of good grated cheese and a tablespoon of melted butter and crisp sage.
At the Tortello Amaro Festival in Castel Goffredo to eat the real ones
Foreigners have a single chance to be able to taste the truly original and is the Bitter Tortello Festival, scheduled this year from 13 to 16 June at the Parco la Fontanella. On this occasion the housewives themselves will get to work, offering those who are not local the chance to taste the real Tortelli Amari of Castel Goffredo or the Tortelli Amarissi, "Just like the castellans like". The rest of the menu will also be based on dishes cooked with this herb: braised pork with pork bitter polenta, bitter polenta with straccone cheese, Amarburgher with fries, Buon Umore cake, Bitter ice cream is GranitinAmara. For those who could not go to the party can always try them in some country restaurants, such as La Viola, La Pialla, Il Roccolo, or in neighboring towns such as the Selvole which is located in the hamlet of the same name, at the trattoria Da Laura in the Perosso hamlet, at the Agriturismo San Lorenzo in the hamlet of Casalpoglio.