Brodo or Pasta Al Forno - what is your favourite Italian Christmas Lunch ?

Italian festive lunches have broth or baked pasta on the menu. From Emilia-Romagna to Sicily, that is the annual Christmas challenge. Steaming dishes steeped in family memories, when they arrive on the festive table are an immediate joy.  Recipes are prepared with care, linked to childhood memories and happy moments of sharing, which are handed down from generation to generation, guardians of the identity of a whole nation. So in this Christmas challenge - broth and baked pasta. And what team are you on?

Savoury and succulent, the broth is the superstar dish of Christmas: a precious ally for the preparation of classic tortellini, it can also be served alone as a consommé. The secret to a state of the art broth lies in the choice of raw materials: beef that is not too lean, pieces of poultry - including bones rich in cartilage - and then onions, carrots and celery. Without forgetting the spices, among the most used cinnamon and cloves. Long cooking in water is fundamental, for two reasons: to allow the extraction of the tastiest substances from vegetables and meat, to dissolve the collagen present in the bones and connective tissue to create a gelatine that will give greater consistency to the broth. The advice of the cooks is to maintain a medium temperature. The Emilia-Romagna region can rightly be considered the homeland of broth, the leitmotif of Christmas first courses: in Bologna the tortellini, in Romagna the cappelletti stuffed with cheese (sometimes with meat), while the main dish of Parma for lunch on December 25 are the anolini embellished with abundant Parmigiano Reggiano. 

Chef Bruno Barbieri's perfect broth requires 4-5 litres of water, which must cover all types of meat present.


¼ capon (possibly the thigh part); 1 piece of beef flank of  about ½ kilo; 1 stalk of celery; 3 carrots, washed and unpeeled; 1 onion, peeled and cut in half; 1 bay leaf; pepper in grains


Put all the ingredients cold in the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for a couple of hours. Do not add salt. Clean the surface of the broth from any impurities with a skimmer, but being careful to have a foamed broth and not to remove the fatty part. After two hours, remove the meat and vegetables from the broth. Remove the pot from the heat, keep a part of the broth that will serve as the cooking water for the tortellini and a part that will be poured into the serving dish. Only at this point will the broth for cooking be salted. Cook the tortellini. Once the tortellini are cooked, drain them gently and place them on the plate, then add the broth set aside. This broth can be salty or not, depending on your taste. If the broth division is complicated, the chef recommends using the broth only for cooking and then pouring over the tortellini at the end on a serving plate.

A pillar of the Italian family tradition, Pasta al Forno or Baked pasta is an unmissable dish on the Christmas holidays. This left-over recipe is an obsession that unites the whole of Italy from North to South. There are many versions of it, as many as there are Italian homes. Among the ingredients most used to prepare it are bechamel and sauce, but everyone loves to follow their own personal recipe. Baked pasta by Gualtiero Marchesi, The chef reveals the trick of grated cheese to make it crunchy on the outside and never dry inside.  


320 g of Pasta (Penne, Torciglioni); 300 g of minced beef; 100 g of grain; 40 g of pangrattato; 1 egg; 20 g of parsley; 1/2 piece of peeled garlic; 220 g of Provola; 300 g of Passata; 4 spoons of EVO; salt.


Wash the parsley, remove the stems and chop it together with the garlic. Collect the minced meat, breadcrumbs, 50 g of parmesan, the egg and the chopped parsley and garlic in a bowl; add salt, mix and obtain many meatballs with a diameter of no more than 2 cm. Grease a pan with a tablespoon of oil, form a layer of pasta and cover it with part of the tomato sauce, arrange another layer of pasta and distribute part of the meatballs and provola over it. Form a third layer of pasta and cover it with the remaining ingredients (tomato sauce, meatballs, provola). Sprinkle the dish with the remaining parmesan and the remaining oil and bake at 180 ° C for 30 minutes.

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