Ravioli are called agnolotti in Piemonte. Every restaurant in Piemonte has them on the menu. As is always the case with traditional recipes in Italy, there are many variations. The most important variations are with or without greens (spinach or savoy cabbage) in the filling, and served with sugo d’arrosto (roast jus), burro e salvia (butter and sage), or meat ragù, or in meath broth or red wine. In all cases, agnolotti are stuffed with roasted meat, and most of the time a mixture of different types of meat.
Agnolotti can be regular square ravioli, as I prepared for this earlier post about agnolotti. But agnolotti del plin are smaller and have a characteristic shape that comes from pinching the pasta as shown in the photo (that is what the word “plin” refers to).
For this post I mostly followed the recipe from l’Italia in Cucina by Slow Food Editore, a book that was a gift from Paola, although I did not include the spinach as most of the agnolotti I had in Piemonte during my two recent trips there were stuffed with just meat and served with sugo d’arrosto. This makes a huge amount, enough for 24 to 48 servings, so you could easily make half or a quarter of the recipe. In fact, if you don’t have a lot of helpers, I would not recommend to make all the agnolotti in a single day. The filling freezes very well though, and that is what I did to serve this for 4 wine pairing dinners with 12 persons each time.
For 16 eggs’ worth of pasta
For the filling
1 rabbit of about 1250 grams (2.8 lbs), in pieces
750 grams (1.7 lbs) pork shoulder or neck
750 grams (1.7 lbs) beef or veal chuck
2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
400 grams (.9 lbs) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 litre (1 cup) dry white wine
For the sugo d’arrosto
1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 stick celery, roughly chopped
2 kilos (4.4 lbs) beef bones
bones from the rabbit, from above
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 bay leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pasta
1600 grams (11 cups) Italian 00 flour
For additional flavor (this step is not in the book’s recipe), sear the pork and veal/beef in olive oil over high heat on both sides…
…until nicely browned.
Take the meat out of the pan and arrange it on a deep baking sheet or large oven dish in a single layer, and deglaze the pan with the white wine. Allow to evaporate by half, then turn off the heat.
Distribute 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot, and 1 chopped celery stick among the pork and veal/beef in the roasting pan. Then drizzle everything with the white wine from the frying pan.
Place the rabbit pieces in another roasting pan and toss with olive oil until lightly coated. Distribute 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot, and 1 chopped celery stick among the rabbit pieces.
Roast the pork and veal/beef in the oven at 190C/375F (fan forced) for 1 hour…
…together with the rabbit. Swap the two trays halfway to ensure even roasting.
Take the rabbit meat off the bones. Reserve the bones for the sugo d’arrosto.
Finely chop the roasted pork, veal/beef, and rabbit meat, together with the roasted vegetables, then mix everything, and allow to cool.
This mixture freezes very well and makes enough stuffing for 16 eggs of pasta. My advice is to freeze it in portions for 1, 2, or 4 eggs of pasta, so you can thaw what is needed to make agnolotti relatively quickly.
Place the beef bones, reserved rabbit bones, 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped celery stick, 4 bay leaves, and 4 sprigs rosemary in a roasting tray. Roast in the oven for 1 hour at 190C/375F. Because it is roasted meat jus, you have to roast the bones to get the roasted flavor.
Place the contents of the roasting tray in a stock pot or pressure cooker. Deglaze the roasting tray with hot water, scraping with a wooden spatula to get all the browned bits in there. Add this water to the pot, then add more water to barely cover the contents of the pot.
Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 hours. Or bring to pressure and pressure cook for 2.5 hours.
Allow the jus to cool, first to room temperature and then in the refrigerator. The fat will float on the top and become firm. The sugo d’arrosto is now ready to be used. Once chilled, it can be frozen in portions. Reserve this fat as well, but keep it separate.
To make the stuffing, combine the chopped meat and vegetables with freshly grated parmigiano and eggs, plus as much of the reserved fat from the sugo d’arrosto as you like. This fat makes a huge difference in the flavor and texture of the agnolotti! I would recommend to use at least 8 tablespoons for the total amount of filling.
Mix everything together. You can do this in the food processor like I did (just using the “pulse”), or by hand if you prefer a texture that is more coarse.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper, remembering that the stuffing of ravioli should always taste slightly more seasoned than you think.
Cover the filling and allow to firm up in the refrigerator. This makes it a lot easier to stuff the agnolotti.
To make the agnolotti, make fresh pasta dough according to my instructions, and roll it out as thinly as possible. You can then follow my general instructions and tips for making ravioli, but there are a few changes:
- Agnolotti should be small, with each piece of stuffing only the size of a hazelnut (1/2 teaspoon)
- The sheet of pasta out of a pasta machine is 15 cm (6″) wide, and for agnolotti should be halved into two sheets of 7.5 cm (3″) wide
- There should only be about a finger’s width of space between the little heaps of stuffing
- You should use the technique as explained below to shape them “al plin”
After folding over the sheet of dough as usual…
…first cut off the excess pasta with a curved pastry wheel, cutting quite close to the stuffing.
Then pinch the dough together between each two little heaps of stuffing with your thumb and index finger…
…, making sure you are not trapping a lot of air inside.
Now cut in between the heaps of filling with the pastry wheel to separate the individual agnolotti, cutting to the front.
Repeat this until you have used up all of the filling.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil to cook the agnolotti. In the meantime, reheat the sugo d’arrosto and simmer it if needed to thicken a bit. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. You could also stir in a bit of the reserved fat from the sugo d’arrosto to make it more rich.
When the water boils, add salt and the agnolotti. Boil them for 2 minutes only, then lift them out of the pot with a strainer…
…and add to the sugo d’arrosto.
Once you have added all of the agnolotti to the sugo, stir carefully to coat them with the sugo.
Serve on preheated plates, and spoon some more of the sugo on top. A bit of freshly grated parmigiano on top is optional.
Because I served these agnolotti at 4 wine pairing dinners with 2 wines for each session, I got to try them with 8 different wines! Both white wines and red wines can be good matches, because there is also rabbit and pork in the stuffing. With beef only, a red wine is called for.
- Cambrugiano Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva 2016, 100% Verdicchio in used oak: good pairing
- Villa Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva 2017, 100% Verdicchio in used oak: good pairing
- Ca’ Maiol Fabio Contato Lugana Riserva 2016, 100% Verdicchio in new oak: good pairing
- Vicara, Grignolino del Monferrato Casalese 2016, 100% Grignolino: wine was a bit past its prime and on the acidic side
- Barbaresco 2004, Produttori del Barbaresco, 100% Nebbiolo: best pairing, very elegant and velvety wine
- Barbaresco 2006, Produttori del Barbaresco, 100% Nebbiolo: great pairing, but not as good as the 2004 because this wine was less elegant
- Bel Colle, Verduno Pelaverga 2020, 100% Pelaverga: pairing okay, but the astringency was in the way a little
- Chionetti Vigna San Sebastiano 2018, Barbera d’Asti, 100% Barbera: pairing okay, but a bit overpowering for the agnolotti
Deshebrada literally means “shredded” in Spanish. It is also the short name for a beef stew in Mexico. In this Mexican recipe, the shredded beef is mixed with green pepper strips.