Tortelli di Granchio (Crab)

2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 6 1x


For the filling:

  • 2 pounds of Alaskan king crab legs
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 ounces of butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

For the pasta:

  • 2 1/4 cups 00 flour (or all purpose flour)
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt
  • 2 egg yolks (to seal the pasta)

For the sauce:

  • 2 ounces butter
  • 2 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

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For the filling:

  1. Remove the crab meat from the shell. Break the meat apart with your hands.
  2. In a large skillet, melt the butter, thyme, salt and pepper. Saute for about two minutes. Add the white wine and then the juice of the lemon. Cook for one additional minute. Remove from heat and let cool.

For the pasta:

  1. Make a mound with the flour, plus a pinch of salt. Then make a well in the middle in which to put the eggs. Beat the eggs with a fork and then slowly use the fork to incorporate the flour. Once the eggs are absorbed, use your hands to knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth. (Of course, you can use a kitchen mixer with a knead attachment to accomplish the foregoing.) Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Cut the dough into 4-6 pieces of equal size, but use only one piece at a time (leaving the remaining dough wrapped in plastic). If you are doing this the old fashion way, with a rolling pin, then roll it out, fold it back several times, and continue this process until thin. Alternatively, pass it through a pasta machine until thin (or until it goes through the second thinnest setting at least twice). Take the sheet, and using a cookie cutter or glass of about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter, cut the pasta into circles.
  3. Immediately, spoon in the filling, and dab the edges with egg yolk. Fold in half and seal with fingers or a fork, and then fold again to form the tortelli. Repeat this process until all of the dough and filling are used.

For the finish:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the tortelli for a few minutes and drain.
  2. In the meantime, melt butter in a large skillet. Add fresh herbs basil, thyme, parsley, mint) salt and pepper and heavy cream to make a sauce. Add the tortelli when they are cooked and saute for about a minute. Serve immediately with a some fresh black pepper.


The use of prepared fresh pasta sheets will cut prep time by 30 minutes.

Ed's Review

In case you were wondering, the Italian "paesano" translates into countryman, and the slang Italian-American version,  "paesan," basically translates into homeboy.  What most people don't realize, however, is that homies are responsible for almost everything we eat.  In ivory towers, they might credit this culinary generosity to a diaspora, or the dispersion of a people from their homeland, usually due to some hardship or by force, like the abject poverty that sent nearly 30 million Italians immigrants in search of a better life during the last century.

With any mass immigration, comes a foreign culture, including language, music and food. Hence how Italian food made it around the world - the paesans brought their food with them. But then assimilation begins, which dilutes and changes the original culture and in the case of Italian food, this is how cappuccino became frappuccino, pizza become double stuffed, and how veal parm was born.

Luckily for Italian cuisine, there is always a fresh crop of homies ready to leave Italy and take their food with them.  Among them, we find Patrizia Branchi, of  Operacaffe in San Diego.  I love the little oasis of authenticity that is her restaurant. She serves these tortelli, which are larger than tortellini, usually four per serving. (The tortelli in the photo, which I made, should probably be a bit larger, but they were delicious nonetheless.)

Buon Appetito!

Ed Garrubbo

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