Cappelletti in cheese cream is a delicious secondo piatto from the Romagna region in Italy.  But it is served in the whole central northern part of Italy. It consists of meat filled pasta in the form of cappelletti, i.e. little hats, and usually served in a rich broth or a sauce of melted Italian cheese and some milk. The pasta is rich in egg yolk and therefore has a yellow color. The pasta is larger than tortellini and made differently.

the art of making cappelletti in cheese cream

The use of egg yolk as the liquid phase to prepare the pasta has effect on the taste and also on the texture, the ‘bite’. Obviously it also makes the pasta more rich and nutritious. Therefore serving a few cappelletti will be sufficient. Salt is added to the dough for a more balance flavor. Kneading of the dough is important to create the balanced taste and texture.

The Italian cheese for the cream sauce should be a semi-soft or semi–hard cheese, otherwise it will not melt below the boiling point of the milk.  Fontina from the north and Raschera from Piedmont are examples that work well. Simply heat milk and the cheese au bain marie and stir.

The filling provides for many options. Any meat is used, I have used duck (rillettes) and chicken meat. But pork, rabbit and beef are also used. Often some greens are added such as swiss chard and some grated cheese such as Parmesan.

The pasta is cooked for 7-12 minutes in salted water, depending on the size of the hats. The pasta will always keep a bite, and therefore is less sensitive to the exact cooking time. Bigger hats need over 10 minutes.

This dish is intense in umami, proteins and fat, so serve a little.

Special equipment

cappelletti (filled pasta) ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh

Capelletti in cheese cream

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course, secondo piatto
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8


for the meat filling

  • 11 oz (300 g) duck rillettes can substitute by cooked duck leg meat and some duck fat
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 9 oz (250 g) swiss chard
  • 1 egg
  • 2 oz (60 g) Parmezan
  • marjoram or thyme
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

for the pasta dough

  • 21.5 oz (600 g) flour (00 grade; you can use mixture of all purpose and bread flour)
  • 1 egg
  • 13 egg yolks

for the cheese sauce

  • 3 oz (85 g) raschera or fontila cheese or similar
  • 9 oz (250 g) milk

for the cooking liquid

  • 4 quarts water
  • 1/2 oz salt


making the meat filling

  • Slice and dice the onion and the garlic
  • Wash the swiss chard and blanch the leaves in hot boiling water for 1-2 minutes
  • Let the swiss chard leaves brain and cut them in pieces
  • Sweat the onions and the garlic for 10 minutes, and then add the blanched and cut swiss chard, the Parmesan grated cheese and the duck rillettes. Mix.
  • Taste and bring to the right level with salt and pepper
  • When using chicken or rabbit, cook this meat in a vegetable broth until the meat is tender. Fatty meat is preferred.

making the pasta dough

  • Separate the egg yolks from the 13 eggs and reserve the yolks
  • Mix the yolks and the one egg with the flour and mix thoroughly. Knead the dough briefly for 5 minutes
  • Wrap the dough in plastic foil and refriegerate for an hour in the fridge

making and filling the cappelletti (little hats)

  • Take the dough from the fridge and let come to room temperature
  • Roll the dough in a thin sheet. This will take effort and some use a pasta machine to get an equally thin sheet, but the dough pin works too. Let the dough relax for a few minutes and then continue to roll the pin with some pressure
  • Then using a ring or rim of a glass, punch out 1.5 inch (4 cm) and 2.5 inch (6 cm) circles from the dough
    preparing cappelletti (filled pasta) ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh
  • Place a teaspoon of the meat mixture onto each small disc
  • Brush the edges of each disc with a little egg wash and lay the larges disc over the meat filling
  • Press the top disc down, expelling any air
  • Keep the hats for several hours covered with foil at room temperature or freeze them to store them for a longer time
    cappelletti (filled pasta) ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh

making the cheese sauce

  • Place the cheese in the milk in a pan and place au bain marie
  • Heat and stir until the cheese melted and well mixed

cooking the cappelletti and serving

  • Bring the water and the salt to a boil
  • Place the hats in the boiling water and keep it boiling until the hats are cooked ready. Bigger hats may need 10 minutes, smaller may be done in 5 minutes
  • Divide the cheese sauce over the bowls and place the drained, but hot cappelletti in the suace. Sprinkle thyme or marjoram leaves over the hats. Serve
    cappelletti (filled pasta) ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh


Method: boiling
Food allergy & intolerance information: gluten, egg
Keyword duck rillettes, egg yolks, fontila, pasta, raschera

Remarks on making cappelletti

  1. The taste of the filled cappelletti is intense and the egg based pasta, the fatty meat and the creamy cheese sauce contain calories. As a course of a multi-course dinner, do not serve more than three ‘hats’ per person. Is it truly the main course, then offer 5-6 per person.
  2. This pasta can be perfectly frozen and stored for three months in a sealed plastic bag. When cooking, throw the frozen cappelletti in the boiling, salted water
  3. A variety of meats can be used: chicken, rabbit, beef and pork. the most standard way to prepare is to simmer the meat in a vegetable broth, then slice or grind the meat. The broth could be used to serve the hats in, instead of the cheese cream.

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