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This recipe of tortellini au gratin is one of the most tasty dishes in Emilia. It is so filling it can be used as a one-course meal. The cooking of the Emilia does tend to use butter and cream fairly liberally, a habit that has led to Bologna being known in Italy as ‘The Fat'. Roberto lives in Ireland now, cooking during the day at Janet's Coffee House in Dun Laoghaire.

Janet's Coffee House and Deli, Upper Georges Street, Dun Laoghaire. Tel. 01 663 6871

Serves:  6


For six people you will need:
Bolognese ragu - see previous recipe
500 grammes Tortellini
6 lt chicken stock
1 lt béchamel sauce

For the béchamel:
100g butter
100g flour
1 lt cold milk
salt, pepper and a tiny pinch of nutmeg


1 saucepan about 9cm high and 20cm across

Put the butter into the pan over a medium heat, let it melt mixing with a wooden spoon. Lower the flame to minimum, add the flour. Mix it very well, you should get a golden colour paste-like mixture. Keeping the flame low, keep mixing well, being careful not to let it become dark in colour ( this should all take about 5 minutes ).

Take the pot off the heat and dilute the paste with the milk, add a pinch of salt, of pepper and a tiny pinch of nutmeg. Put the pan back on the heat and reduce the flame to a medium heat. Stir without stopping to avoid the sauce sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. This will take about ten minutes. The sauce should be smooth and fairly thick.

Take an oven to table dish, rub the inside with a little butter and put a few spoonfuls of béchamel onto the bottom of the dish. Put an even layer of tortellini on top of the sauce, cover these with an abundant layer of ragu, spreading it out well with the back of a spoon.

Sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Continue with the layers until the dish is full, ending with a layer of ragu and Parmesan. Cover the top with knobs of butter and put under the grill to brown. It is ready when it is a golden colour. Bring the dish to the table and serve directly into your guests' dishes.

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