Friday, February 17, 2012

Experiment with Butternut Agnolotti: Recipe Creation in Progress.

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It’s not bad, but I want to work on it a bit more.

I’m going to try something new for this post, something a bit incomplete, but working well. So don’t expect a recipe at the end like usual, what you see is what you’ve got, a collection of pictures documenting a process that I’d like to spend more time on. I think I’ve made enough progress that it’s worth sharing however! If you disagree, feel free to let me know.

This was also my first foray into making stuffed pasta, an agnolotti in this case. It is sort of like a ravioli, except the stuffing methodology is a bit different, with a bit more folding involved, at least for some practitioners. It hails from the Piedmont region of Italy, and is typically stuffed with a mixture of meat and vegetables.

I decided to make a butternut agnolotti because A: I had butternut on hand and we rarely eat it, and B: it was one of the suggestions for what to do with pasta dough in Ratio.

For the butternut, you have to roast it, and there are any number of recipes for it online. I don’t know exactly which one I used, but the process is pretty much the same.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, cut your butternut in half, season it with salt (and maybe pepper), coat with a fat such as butter or oil, and maybe sprinkel on some brown sugar, and optionally some of the “sweeter” spices, that is to say cinnamon and nutmeg.

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Scoop out the seeds of course, reserving them if that tickles your fancy.

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Yes, very attractive and uniform buttering. Or not. I had balance issues and should have cut  some more of the squash off the sides to keep them level. Anyway, roast these in a hot oven, probably about 40 minutes, or more. I saw a recipe that said 25 minutes and that is just wrong.

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When the butternut is easily pierced by a knife, it’s ready for use. Could be served up as is almost right now, perhaps cut into cubes and sauteed quickly in a hot pan with even more butter. For my purposes, I would have reduced the brown sugar dramatically for the use of stuffed pasta.

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For my purposes however, I scooped out the flesh and used my food mill to turn it into a nice puree.

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Season with more salt to taste. Don’t be shy. I was, and I think it needed more salt.

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Touch of cream to these things rarely hurts either.

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I actually made the pasta while roasting the butternut for what it’s worth, but in the interest of simplicity here’s the pasta section.

Making pasta dough is incredibly simple if you have a food processor. Two eggs, conveniently 2 ounces each, and 6 ounces of flour. Since a cup of flour is roughly five ounces, maybe a cup of flour and a very scant quarter cup, seeing as how 1/5 cup measurements aren’t typically available. Basically I recommend you get a scale. They’re fun.

So, throw the eggs and flour into a food processor, pulse a few times to combine, and when it starts coming together dump the shaggy mass onto a floured surface and work it together with your fingers.

There’s always the traditional swirling the egg in the bowl of flour methodology, and you are a badass if you do it that way. Me? I don’t have time to be a badass right now, I’m hungry.

Ok, once again, with pictures.

Two eggs, just shy of four ounces.

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I’ll go with a bit less than six ounces of flour in that case.

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Pulse process until it becomes a shaggy mass.

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Dump it out, mush it together.

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And there you have it, an attractive ball of pasta dough.

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Wrap it and let rest for at least ten minutes. If you are going to let it rest more than an hour, refrigerate it.

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Here is my relaxed dough, ready for rolling.

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This here is the Imperia pasta machine. It’s pretty good at rolling out pasta but the handle has a super annoying habit of falling out at certain angles when you let go of it. I can’t complain because it was given to me for free by a great friend, but I can see why he switched to the Kitchenaid attachment for his own purposes.

But yes, much more convenient than using a rolling pin.

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Sorry for a lack of pictures by the way, wiping off flour covered hands between shots and getting dirty again just gets repetitive. This is one of the stages of rolling.

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And here is a sheet of it at its thinnest shape. Oh protip, parchment paper is fantastic for handling this stage, otherwise you will probably want to do this on a very well floured surface.

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Fill up a piping bag with some butternut puree, or perhaps a huge ziploc bag with the corner cut out and a piping tip stuck in the end.

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Squeeze out a line.

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Brush with beaten egg and fold, then use your fingers to make the line of squash into rectangles. 

Just check out this guy for a clearer idea of what to do.

What a pro!

Ok now that you’ve seen how a master does it, here’s my way.

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And fold once more.

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Cut with a knife like me if you don’t have that cool frazzled edging thingy. Anyway, these are my agnolotti, and I am proud of their shape.

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Boil for about three or four minutes and drain.

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I tried them plain for quality purposes. Not too bad, but definitely needed more aggressive seasoning. Or a nice sauce!

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I think a good red sauce would have been best, but being a bit short supplied in the kitchen, went with sauteed mushrooms.

Hot butter.

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Mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper. A roux might have been better, along with some of that cream. Ah, hindsight.

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Still, I can’t really complain that much can I?

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Not bad at all. Still, I’m not too sure about sharing this recipe until I’ve got it down pat. It needs a bit of something, perhaps more vegetables or fresh herbs in the puree.

I also pan fried the boiled agnolotti with some chopped onion, as seen in the first image, which actually was quite pleasant like a potsticker almost.

I hope this was interesting to read, and that it keeps you wanting more!

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