Showing posts with label fresh pasta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fresh pasta. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Veal & mortadella agnolotti



Most of the homemade mortadella we made around the holidays got sliced up (nice and thin!) and eaten as-is. But not all of it.

The stuff makes a fine ingredient for a pasta filling, you know. And this filling is the best to come out of our recent batch of mortadella.

Of course, you don't have to make your own mortadella to put these agnolotti together. Just go out and buy some of the stuff and get to work.

Now.



Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in around a tablespoon of olive oil.



Add 1 pound ground veal.



Once the veal has browned a bit add 1/3 cup or so of either white wine or vermouth and turn up the heat.



Allow the wine to evaporate, then turn off the heat and let the veal cool a bit.



Dice 1/4 pound of mortadella (makes no difference if you use a hunk or slices).



In a food processor add the veal, mortadella, 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and one egg, then process until completely blended.



Taste and adjust seasoning as you like. (You could add more cheese, or a little salt, perhaps a dash of nutmeg.)



Instead of using a pastry bag I always put my pasta fillings in a strong plastic bag that can be thrown away after I'm finished. (Of course, you'll need to cut the tip off in order to allow the filling to be squeezed out.)



Roll out your pasta dough on the thin side and around 3 or 4 inches wides.



If your dough is very moist you can skip this step; otherwise brush a little egg wash along the far edge before rolling the dough around the filling.



Use your finger to press down and form the individual agnolotti (I made these on the longish side, but smaller works great too).



This is basically what it will look like once you've worked your way along the entire roll.



All that's left to do now is cut the individual agnolotti.



I boiled and served these in freshly made chicken broth (or brodo) and topped the agnolotti with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and freshly ground black pepper. The reason I chose to go with a classic and simple brodo is so that the veal and mortadella filling can really stand out.

And it did.

Which is a very good thing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Hand-cut pappardelle



They only look special.

Fact is, there isn't all that much to making really nice pappardelle. All you need is a good pasta dough and a little patience. To wit...



Most fresh pasta recipes call for all-purpose flour, which I'm sure is just fine, but I've been using "00" flour for a long time and it's always worked well for me.



There's nothing wrong with using regular supermarket eggs either. But when making pasta I always use the freshest eggs I can get my hands on. These are from a farm just a few miles from my house.



Tools? You'll need a fork and a pastry cutter.



Okay, now find yourself a surface that gives you room to work without feeling cramped. I just use the stone countertop in my kitchen but a big cutting board will do just fine. Take 3 cups of flour and, using your fingers, create a well in the center.



Add three whole eggs, three egg yolks, plus around three-quarters of a teaspoon of kosher salt.



Then add 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.



Use the fork to mix it all together.



Using your fork, slowly incorporate the flour into the egg mix. Don't rush it; just gradually, and in a circular motion, bring the flour into the egg a little at a time.



When a dough just starts to form put away the fork and grab the pastry cutter.



Using the cutter gradually incorporate the remaining flour into the wet mix. There's no need to be delicate about this. Just scrape the flour in from the sides and cut it right in.



At this stage you're ready to work the dough with your hands.



Pasta dough isn't like pastry dough and so you don't need to worry about being delicate with it. Just keep working it until the egg and flour are fully incorporated.



Whe a nice dough ball forms scrape away any remaining flour from your work surface with the pastry cutter. On the clean surface keep working the dough until it's nice and smooth. If the dough feels too wet dust the surface with a little flour and incorporate it into the dough ball. The dough shouldn't feel sticky when you touch it, but it shouldn't be dry either. Again, don't worry about being delicate. You could work pasta dough all night long and not mess it up.



When you're through working the dough wrap it in a plastic bag and let it rest. Most people allow the dough to sit at room temperature for a few hours before making their pasta, which is fine. However, I prefer to make my dough a whole day in advance and let it sit in the fridge overnight.



I also take the bag out a couple times and massage the dough while it's in the plastic bag, even flattening it down. I do this because the dough becomes smoother and silkier, as it allows the humidity to become more evenly distributed throughout the dough. The next day I make sure to take the dough out of the fridge and let it to come up to room temperature before making my pasta.



I've got a restaurant-grade electric pasta machine and so the sheets I produce can be pretty nice. But don't let that intimidate you. A sheet of pasta is a sheet of pasta. As long as the dough is made well you'll be in good shape, no matter what machine you use. Sometimes I don't even use a machine, opting for hand-rolling instead. As for thickness with pappardelle, I run the sheets just under the No. 2 setting on my pasta maker. This will make for a slightly thick noodle, so adjust as you like.



No matter which rolling method you use, the idea is to wind up with pasta sheets like this. The sheets don't come out of the machine looking this perfect; just square the edges using a cutter or a knife. The length of the sheet should be as long as you'd like the noodle to be. This sheet is around 9 inches long.



Roll the sheet like so, but make sure to do it very gently.



Then take a very sharp knife and cut the roll into pieces the width of the noodle you want. These are a little under an inch wide.



Once the entire roll is cut immediately unroll each individual noodle and place on a pan or baking sheet covered with course semolina flour.



The pappardelle can rest this way until you're ready to cook them. Cooking time will vary depending on how thick you've rolled out the sheets, but these only took 2 minutes.

See? Nothing to it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How to make potato ravioli



They only look like the ones your mother used to make.

Far from it, actually. These ravioli are filled with potato, not ricotta. The only cheese inside is a little grated Reggiano, and that's for flavor, not texture.

I know what you're thinking: Must be pretty heavy. Like pierogi maybe. Cannonball type stuff, right?

Nope. These are pretty light as ravioli go, so long as you treat the filling just right.



Start with around 2 pounds of Russett potatoes. With a fork pierce the skin in several places and bake until the flesh is thoroughly softened. It's totally cool to microwave the potatoes instead; after all, we'll only be using the flesh, not the skins. Just don't boil the potatoes, okay. Far as I'm concerned that always makes for a heavier filling.



Once the potatoes are baked allow them to cool just enough so that you can work with them without burning your fingers. Remove the skins and run the potatoes through a ricer and into a mixing bowl.



Mix in one egg, three tablespoons melted butter, 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a dash of nutmeg, salt (don't be shy here, okay) and pepper to taste, and enough milk to moisten the potatoes. I'd start with 1/4 cup and add from there as needed; the idea is to achieve a nice and smooth filling, but not a runny one.



For good measure stir in some extra virgin olive oil, at which point the filling should be good to go. Taste it and adjust as you see fit. You can now get right to work on making the ravioli, or refrigerate the filling until you're ready. It will last in the fridge a few days.



All that's left to do now is put the ravioli together (here's my fresh pasta dough recipe in case you need one). These pasta sheets are very thin, rolled out to the 1.5 setting on my pasta machine, which ranges from 1-10, thinnest to thickest. You can see that the filling is creamy without being runny; that's the consistency you're looking for.



To keep the ravioli from having air pockets carefully lay down the top pasta sheet with that in mind. I always begin at one end and slowly roll the top sheet down over each dollop of filling. To me that works better than lowering the entire top sheet down onto the bottom sheet at once.



One at a time start to form the ravioli; again, being careful to allow all of the air to escape.



This is how things should look. It's not the end of the world if a little air is left inside the ravioli; just do your best to keep it to a minimum.



All that's left to do now is get out your pasta cutter and cut the ravioli. As I said, the dough is thin and delicate. When you boil the ravioli (in very well-salted water, of course) they should only take around 3 minutes.



The great thing about this filling is that it goes great with most any kind of sauce you can conjure. This is a really simple sauce that I made here. I just sauteed some garlic and a little hot pepper in olive oil, then added lots of sweet butter, white wine and chopped parsely. In a couple minutes enough of the wine had reduced so that the flavor was just right. Easy peasey.

Then again, I have some leftover filling from the other night and I'll be making a small batch of the ravioli for dinner tonight. This time it'll be a Bolognese sauce, I think.

Which is a lot more like what mom might have made.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Poof, you're a pasta!



The feeling around here is that I have never met an ingredient—a solid one, a liquid, or any other kind—that I would not somehow, some way fit—or, if necessary, force—into a pasta recipe. Take this butternut squash. It was supposed to be a side dish for another cook's menu, but when the woman wasn't watching (okay, it was 5 a.m. and she was still asleep in the bed that we share) I absconded with said squash and prayed for a not too harsh punishment.

A lying, cheating, conniving man does what a lying, cheating, conniving man must do.



Lop the top off, cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven, preheated to 400 degrees F. (Do this as quietly as possible, lest you cause another in the house to prematurely awaken.)



As the squash is roasting dice a medium-size red onion very finely and saute in 4 tablespoons butter until the onion is softened. Do this on a low flame and slowly so that the onion and the butter do not burn. (Smells emanating from the kitchen have been known to move even the deepest of sleepers to rise. You're on your own here. Risk is an essential component to a full life.)



Start checking the squash for doneness at around 30 minutes. The flesh should be soft enough for a fork to go through easily. This squash roasted for around 50 minutes. Allow to cool then scoop out all the flesh and discard the skin.



In a food processor put the squash, the onion (including the butter it cooked in), 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, a good dose of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Process for around 30 seconds or so, or until you can get a sense of how moist the mixture is going to be.



Start adding a little cream and continue processing. The idea here is to make a nice rich filling but not a wet and runny one. I added the cream in a couple stages and wound up using around 1/4 cup.



Here's the filling when it's done. It's about the consistency of a very moist ricotta. (If you are wondering, the answer is No, the food-processing stage did not awaken my beloved.)



At this point the pasta shape is up to you. I'd first thought about making ravioli but decided to go with cappelletti (little hats) instead.



Like so...



... and like so...



... and, well, you get the idea.



I decided to serve the cappelletti en brodo,  or simply in broth. There was a lot of turkey broth in the freezer from Thanksgiving and so I boiled and served the pasta in that. I also topped each serving with some crisp chunks of cooked homemade pancetta and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

It was only at this point that I knew I had been forgiven.
 
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