Stuffed pasta such as ravioli can probably be classified as my signature dish. I love to prepare them and I love to eat them. Twice a year I organize a wine & food extravaganza for my friends — two evenings with a multi-course dinner with two different paired wines with each course to compare them and find out which one is the best match. After the Burgundy theme earlier this year, it is now time for the Italian region of Piemonte. Piemonte is the home of great wines such as Barolo and the home of great Italian food. After the Barolo Chinato (which I will serve with the dessert) I wrote about yesterday, today’s post is about the one of the primi piatti (pasta dishes) I will serve during my serata piemontese: Agnolotti.
Agnolotti are the ravioli of Piemonte (don’t say this to someone from Piemonte though, because they will say that ravioli and agnolotti are completely different). Agnolotti are not just any kind of ravioli, as agnolotti have to be stuffed with braised meat (whereas ravioli could also be stuffed with vegetables or seafood). As with most Italian dishes there are as many versions of agnolotti as their are families in Piemonte, but in most cases the stuffing consists not only of meat but also of cabbage or some other type of greens, and in most cases the the agnolotti are served with a sugo from the braising and are cooked in meat stock. Many types of meat can be used, such as beef, pork, veal, or rabbit. Often a mixture of different meats is used. In this case I used veal.
Cavolo nero is my favorite type of cabbage, and that is what I used for these agnolotti. That means cheating a little, as cavolo nero is from Tuscany. Savoy cabbage (verza) is what would be used in Piemonte. I also decided to cook them in stock, which is very traditional. After using the stock for cooking the agnolotti, it will have become clouded from the starch. You can still use the stock to make risotto. In fact, the starch in the stock will help to make the risotto more creamy. Here’s my version of agnolotti.
400 grams (.9 lbs) veal and/or beef and/or pork and/or rabbit
100 grams (3.5 oz) cavolo nero
30 grams (3 Tbsp) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
200 grams (1 1/4 cup) Italian 00 flour
1 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sprigs rosemary
4 Tbsp butter
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
500 ml (2 cups) meat stock for the sugo
2 litres (2 quarts) meat stock for cooking the ravioli (optional)
I prepared 4 litres (4 quarts) of meat stock by pressure cooking 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) of ground pork, 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) of ground beef, 4 chicken wings, 2 beef marrow bones, 2 celery stalks, 1 onion, 1 carrot, parsley, thyme, and peppercorns for 2 hours in 4 litres (4 quarts) of water. I then allowed the stock to cool and removed the layer of fat on top.
Pulse until coarsely but homogeneously ground. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. The stuffing should be more salty than you think, because you will taste it less once it’s in the agnolotti.
Make pasta dough from the remaining eggs and the flour, roll it out to the thinnest setting, and make
ravioli agnolotti according to my instructions.
Arrange the agnolotti on a surface that you sprinkled with flour. Turn the agnolotti around after 15 minutes or so if you are not cooking them straight away, so they can dry on both sides and won’t stick to the surface.
A red wine from Piemonte is of course most appropriate for this, and a Barbera is the best match for agnolotti. I prefer a Barbera d’Alba that has been slightly oaked and aged for 5 years or so.