Agnolotti del Plin
Fresh pasta made by "a pinch"
Agnolotti del plin (pronounced ah-gno-loh-tee / dehl / pleen) is an iconic dish from Piedmont, getting its name (plin) from the regional dialect for "a pinch," which is how you make the pasta. To form each individual agnolotto, you pinch two sheets of pasta together to create the small pouches. Generally they're filled with meat or vegetables, but there is no hard and fast rule. This dish dates back to the lavish feasts thrown by Italian dukes. During these celebrations, copious amounts of roasted meat was made, and the leftovers were used the day after for filling the agnolotti. Centuries later, this dish is still a great way to utilize meat trimmings from the previous night's meal. What's great is that you can use pretty much anything- pork, beef, chicken, rabbit, or various other vegetables. The filling we selected for this recipe is the most "typical," a combination of beef and pork with spinach. And the sauce is very simple: melted butter & sage. And if you're feeling really adventurous- you can add shaved white truffle! The perfect pairing for the Barbera d'Alba!
Total time: 2 hours, 35 minutes
Prep time: 2 hours
Cooking time: 35 minutes
What you'll need:
For the dish:
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water
8-10 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 sage leaves
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 fresh white truffle (optional)
For the Agnolotti Dough:
3 cups all purpose flour
3 whole large eggs
3 egg yolks
For the Agnolotti Filling:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 sprig fresh rosemary (leaves only)
1 lb ground veal (or beef)
1 lb ground pork
large handfull spinach, roughly chopped
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3 large eggs
Salt and pepper for taste
MAKE THE DOUGH
1. Sift and then mound 3 cups of the flour in the center of a wooden cutting board (or large, flat surface area). Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated.
2. Start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palm of your hands. Knead for ~15 minutes, adding any of the remaining flour if necessary to create a cohesive mass. Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover bits. Lightly reflour the board and continue kneading for 5 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
TO MAKE THE FILLING
1. In a saucepan, add 1 tablespoon of butter over high heat until it's hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook until the garlic is light golden brown, ~5 minutes. Add the veal (or beef) and pork meat and brown the meat on all sides, stirring occasionally, ~ 8-10 minutes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, to taste. Don't be afraid to let the meat begin to caramelize a bit.
2. While the meat is cooking, bring 6 a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the spinach and cook for ~ 1 minute, then drain, and add to the meat. If it doesn't look like enough you can always repeat and add more. Then stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano, eggs, and salt and pepper to taste. Use a wooden spoon to mix until it's well combined, then set aside.
TO FORM THE AGNOLOTTI
1. Cut the pasta dough into 3 equally sized pieces. Re-wrap 2 of the pieces in plastic wrap and set them aside. Begin working with the 1 unwrapped piece of dough. On a lightly floured work surface use a floured rolling pin to roll out the past dough until it is very thin, but not thin enough to see through and tear. As you roll, you can always use your hands to help stretch it apart. If you have a pasta machine, it's even better and easier! You can use it to roll out the dough on its thinnest setting.
2. Lay the resulting pasta sheet on a lightly floured surface with the long side facing you and trim the edges so they're straight. Use a brush and lightly paint the dough with water so that the pasta will stick together. Using a spoon, scoop equally sized spoonfuls of the filling the size of small balls and place them along the bottom half of the pasta sheet, leaving 1 inch border of dough at the bottom and sides. Each dollop of filling should be approximately 1 inch away from the next. Pull the top edge of the pasta up and over the filling. The dough should form 1 large pocket over all the dollops of filling. Seal the agnolotti by gently pressing lightly with your fingers to seal the edge of the dough to the pasta sheet. Using a pasta cutter or sharp knife, remove the bottom half of the pasta just below where the two pasta sheets are folded and meet. Once the excess pasta is removed, you can continue to shape the agnolotti.
TO SHAPE THE AGNOLOTTI
1. Starting at one end of the dough, place the thumb and forefinger of each hand together as if you were going to pinch something and pinch the folded areas of dough in between each mound of filling, sealing the pockets together. Continue until all the spaces between each mound of filling are pinched together. Once everything is pinched, run a sharp knofe or crimped pastry wheel along the bottom edge of the folded over dough, separating the strip of filled pockets from the remainder of the pasta sheet. Don't cut too close to the filling, or you risk breaking the seal. Separate the individual agnolotti by cutting the center of each pinched area, rolling the pastry wheel away from you. Place the agnolotti to the side on a lightly floured plate until they're all finished. Dust with flour to keep from sticking together.
2. Repeat with the 2 remaining dough balls until you've finished all of the dough and/or filling.
3. TRICK: If you don't have a pasta cutter (like us), you can use a fork to help seal and it makes the edges and seals look prettier! See videos below for demonstration.
TO COOK & ASSEMBLE THE DISH
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add a generous amount of salt, then add the freshly made agnolotti and cook for ~5 minutes or until the agnolotti are bobbing on the surface of the water.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Lay the sage leaves in the pan and heat until the butter is sizzling gently. Toast the leaves for ~1 minute, then remove them.
3. Add 1 cup of water to the butter, then swirl the pan and simmer for ~2 minutes, reducing the liquid by half. Keep the sauce over very low heat.
4. Drain the agnolotti, once cooked, and add them to the sauce in the pan. Be very careful as to not break them apart. Toss and cook them for ~1 minute over medium heat until the sauce is bubbling. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the grated Parmigiana.
5. To garnish, add fresh sage leaves. OR you can shave fresh white truffles over the pasta for an extra added bonus! You won't be sorry :-)