Food & Drink (godiamoci la vita)

Of Monsters and Chestnuts Part Two: The Recreation

Perfection

If you were with us for part one, then you know the origin story – girl goes to 14th century estate with oversized mythological carvings, girl works up an appetite walking around the grounds of said estate, girl goes to homey local osteria to sate her hunger with a decadent meal, girl eats a delicious chestnut ravioli and is determined to recreate and elevate it back at home.

And so, after an intense evening of testing, retesting, and perfecting my vision of this dish (along with some well-qualified assistance), I present:

Agnolotti di Castagne con Crema di Parmigiano e Semi di Melograno
(Chestnut agnolotti with parmesan cream and pomegranate seeds)

Filled pastas can be a bit challenging to time right as you need to be preparing the pasta dough and the filling at pretty much the same time. So if you don’t have a helping hand in the kitchen, prepare the pasta dough ahead of time and leave it in the fridge, removing and bringing to room temperature before rolling.

For the pasta:
-150 grams all-purpose flour (00)
-100 grams farro flour
-50 grams semolina flour
-3 egg yolks
-2 whole eggs

Measure and combine the three types of flour. Once measured, mound the flour on a large board and form a wide well in the middle – large enough to hold all the egg.  Separate three eggs and add their yolks to the center, then add the two remaining eggs in their entirety.

Using a fork, begin mixing the egg in a circular fashion, incorporating a small amount of flour with each pass.  The egg mixture will thicken with the addition of the flour. When either most of the flour is incorporated, your wrist hurts from 10 minutes of circular mixing action, or you accidentally knock a hole in the wall of flour and the egg starts volcano-ing down the side, flour up your hands a bit and and get in there to mix the rest of it together. Once all the flour is incorporated, continue turning and kneading the dough until you have a smooth, rich yellow color, and a firm, elastic dough that bounces back a bit when you press a finger into it. Wrap the dough in plastic and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

For the filling:
-500 grams of chestnuts
-splash of brandy
-2 tbsps mascarpone cheese
-splash of olive oil
-1 tsp honey
-1 tsp lemon
-salt and pepper (to taste)

Preheat your oven to 180°C (355°F). While the oven is preheating, use a small knife to score your chestnuts width-wise – careful to cut only through the hard outer shell and not too far down into the nut itself. Roast the chestnuts for 8-10 minutes. When they’re finished, let them cool for a minute and then carefully peel them while still warm. Once the nuts cool, they become much harder to peel.

Once peeled, roughly chop the chestnuts and place them in a pan over medium-high heat with a cup of water and a splash of brandy.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until they have softened and you can pierce them easily with a fork.  Combine the rest of the filling ingredients (mascarpone, olive oil, honey, lemon juice), and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the agnolotti…

Once the pasta dough and filling is prepared, it’s time to roll and fill! If you have a pasta maker, now’s the time to bust it out, and if not, patience and a rolling pin will certainly do the trick. Work in small batches, keeping the dough that you’re not working with wrapped in plastic. Roll out each batch as thin as you can (smallest setting on a pasta maker, or just as thin as you can with a pin). Use semolina flour to prevent sticking.  Once you’ve rolled out a thin sheet, cut out circles of dough – a nutella jar is a great size reference for the kind of circle you want, and actually works quite well as a cutter itself.

Place approximately 1 tsp of filling in the center of each circle, and fold the dough over itself, creating a semicircle of filled pasta. Be careful to push out all air as you close the dough, and seal the edges with a swipe of water or egg white. Once sealed, carefully press around the rounded ends with the tines of a fork. Place assembled agnolotti on a tray with a dusting of semolina to keep from sticking. Repeat until you’ve used up all the dough or all the filling – hopefully at the same time!

For the sauce:
-100 grams butter
-300 grams parmigiano reggiano – half grated, half shaved
-cracked black pepper
-seeds from 1/4 pomegranate

To put it all together
Cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. The pasta will float to the top, and then need to continue cooking for a couple of minutes. Pasta is ready when it is tender but not soft.

Meanwhile, begin heating the butter over medium heat in a pan large enough to hold all of the pasta.  When butter has melted, turn heat off if pasta is not cooked and ready to be sauced. When it is ready, return the butter to heat and mix in the grated parmesan, using a bit of water to help emulsify if necessary.  Add the cooked pasta and stir until the pasta is well coated with the sauce.

Distribute the pasta evenly, and top each plate with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, a few thick shavings of parmesan, and a dash of cracked black pepper.  Serve alongside some bread to sop up the sauce. Enjoy.

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