Nanny Drudi's 'passiden' from the Great Eyewitness News Holiday Cook-off

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Sunday, December 18, 2022
Nanny Drudi's 'passiden' from EWN Holiday Cook-off
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Here's what you need to make Nanny Drudi's "passiden" from the Great Eyewitness News Holiday Cook-off.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- As a kid, my mother and father spent their days running one of the various eateries dad opened at different times, so my grandparents were always there to help raise my older brother Steve and me. Our grandmother, or "nonna", we affectionately called "Nanny" would cook for us in between watching soap operas and scrubbing the house spotless. While she could make almost anything well, she was the queen of pasta. Every Saturday morning, she would break out this huge, wooden pasta board my grandfather made for her that she'd lay out on her kitchen table. She used the board so much that there was a divot worn in the middle of the wood where she'd scrape up the dough to make one of a dozen shapes of pasta.

Nan was born in the northern Italian seaside town of Cattolica. Located just over an hour east of Bologna, the town has a distinct array of dishes not found anywhere else in Italy.

One of our absolute favorite northern Italian pastas can best be described as a cross between a matzo ball and spaetzle. Like so many ethnic foods, it is born from poverty. As Italians consider it a sin to waste bread - after all, it is the stuff of life- they would take any leftover bread to use the next day in things like muas, a north Italian breakfast porridge, Panzanella, a type of bread salad, and of course, pangratatto or bread crumbs. Those bread crumbs would be scooped up, mixed with leftover parmigiana and a few leftover eggs, and magic would happen.

In formal Italian, the pasta I made is called Passatelli, in Nan's Romagnol dialect, spoken in the region of Emilia-Romagna, it's called passiden (pah-see-DAIN). Nan would serve it in her homemade chicken soup aside a plate of bollito misto which is assorted boiled meats and vegetables that simmered in stock made from pieces of chicken, soup bones, stew meat, and carrots. It was always a special treat, usually made during the holidays, and tasted like a warm hug!

Nanny Drudi's "passiden"

What you'll need

10 cups water

1 1/2 pounds of chicken wings

3 carrots, washed and cut into 2-inch chunks

2 stalks of celery, washed and cut into 2-inch chunks

1 whole onion cut in half (skin on)

I bunch of parsley with stems

1 clove garlic

1-inch knob of ginger (skin on)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Salt and black pepper to taste

1 1/3 cups breadcrumbs

2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

4 whole eggs

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Zest of one lemon

1/4 teaspoon salt and a grind of black pepper

How to make homemade pasta

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, forming a ball.

2. Wrap in plastic and allow to rest for 30 to 60 minutes until the bread crumbs rehydrate.

3. Press the pasta through the largest holes on your box grater, or through the largest dye on your potato ricer making strands about an inch in length.

4. Serve in your favorite chicken soup (simmer for 10-15 minutes), or use the zupa di passatelli recipe below.

How to make "passiden"

1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook on high

2. Just as water begins to boil, lower it to a simmer for 45 minutes.

3. Strain broth into a separate pot and bring it back to a simmer.

4. Salt and pepper to taste.

5. Add passatelli and allow to cook in the broth for at least 15 minutes.

6. Serve with choice of meat and vegetables on the side.

Watch the Great Eyewitness News Holiday Cook-off to see Ken Rosato and Shirleen Allicot go head-to-head in the kitchen for the coveted title of best newsroom chef!


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