corn agnolotti + black garlic oxtail
When I share a recipe for pasta, the post is so much less about what goes on top of or in the pasta. I want to get you comfortable with the process of making, shaping, rolling, filling, etc. the pasta dough itself. Once you get the hang of that, then you can fill it and sauce it with whatever your heart desires. Today, I want to share a recipe for my favorite type of pasta: agnolotti. Agnolotti comes from the Piedmont region of Italy and is a small, filled pasta that reminds me of little pillows. Agnolotti is similar to ravioli, but, in my opinion, is easier and faster to make. Italians will tell you that it's not agnolotti unless its filled with meat, but we can all agree to disagree there. I tend to fill my agnolotti with various ricotta/cheese/veggie fillings and use some kind of meat in the sauce for the pasta. However, this pasta is equally great just tossed with a little butter and parmesan. I have a specific recipe for the pasta dough I use when making agnolotti and it calls for '00 Flour.' Some sources will tell you that it is a soft wheat flour with a low protein content. This is a lie. The '00' does not refer to the protein content, it refers to the fineness of the milling. '00' flour the finest grade of flour milled in Italy and is great for many pasta and pizza doughs. Because of the fineness of the milling, the dough doesn't require as much water as American flours and yields a very tender dough. You can find my favorite brand here from Amazon. However, any egg pasta will work in this recipe, so feel free to use your favorite.
I always mix my pasta dough in my KitchenAid mixer, just until it comes together and then I finish the dough by kneading it by hand. I always, always let my dough rest for at least 20-30 minutes before rolling. This is an incredibly important step and allows the gluten in the dough to relax, making the dough easier to work with. If you don't have a pasta roller (though, seriously, you should. It's of my favorite tools and you can find rollers that work without the need of a stand mixer), you can try your hand at rolling the dough very thin with a rolling pin. Assuming you're using a pasta roller, I will say that each is different. I have both a hand-crank roller and the attachment for my KitchenAid and both have different measurements for thickness. The numbers on the dial on the side of your roller refer to the level of thickness; some descend in thinness, some ascend. My KitchenAid starts at '1' for the thickest and my hand-crank starts at '6'. My KitchenAid has 8 settings, whereas my hand-crank only has 6. Getting to know your pasta maker is important--each is unique. I usually use my KitchenAid to roll pasta as it's easier to manage with just one person and for this recipe I roll my pasta out to a thickness of '5'. On my hand-crank I usually roll the pasta to a '2' thickness since it's moving the other direction. You want to be able to see your hand through the pasta, but more just the color of your hand, not the shape. I know, this sounds weird but the thinner your pasta is, the clearer you will be able to see through it. The pasta for this recipe should be thin, but not so thin that you can see the shape of your fingers through the dough. Real scientific and specific, I know (not), but it is the easiest way to guide yourself through the process. So much of being able to roll pasta comes from feel--knowing when to add more liquid or flour based on the feel of the dough--and that just comes with time. Obviously this means you should make handmade pasta all the time. Shucks. It really sucks to eat homemade pasta regularly. Just ask my husband. Ugh.
The actual shaping of the agnolotti is easy once you've got your dough rolled out to the proper thinness. I throw whatever filling I'm using into a piping bag, pipe an even line of filling across the dough, and fold the dough away from me over the filling. The rest is just pinching and cutting. The process can be hard to describe in words, so I created a quick video which should make the process easier to follow.
Once you've got your pasta rolled, filled and shaped, I store the pieces on a sheet tray dusted with semolina flour so that they don't get gummy. You can cook the pasta straightaway or they can be frozen on the tray (and later thrown in ziplock bags when solid), and cooked from frozen later on. Like I said, this pasta is great just filled with ricotta and parmesan and then tossed with butter, salt, pepper and more parmesan. But if you want to make some braised black garlic oxtail (trust me, you do) and top your agnolotti with that, plus some arugula and lots of parmesan, you can find the recipe below! Happy pasta making!
makes 30-40 pieces of agnolotti
8oz (227g) '00' flour
20g olive oil
30g whole milk
flour for dusting
fluted pasta cutter
water for brushing dough (i keep my water in a spray bottle and just gently mist the dough when the time comes)
2 ears corn, shucked and kernels cut away from the cob (save cobs for the next time you make stock)
1 stick butter
16oz whole milk ricotta*
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
black garlic oxtail (recipe below)
*i strain my ricotta overnight in the fridge with some cheesecloth set over a bowl to remove excess moisture. This is a totally optional step but keeps your pasta from getting too gummy with excessively wet filling.
1. To make filling, melt butter in a small sauce pan and add corn kernels. Simmer corn in butter for 10 minutes until tender. Transfer corn and butter to a blender and blend on high until very smooth. Cool in the fridge. Fold corn mixture with ricotta, egg and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and place in a piping bag or ziplock bag until ready to use.
2. Mix all dough ingredients together and knead until dough is smooth, cover and rest for 20-30 minutes (I put mine in a ziplock bag). Alternately, weigh all ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the dough hook, mix the dough on low speed until dough just comes together. Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead by hand until smooth. Cover and rest for 20-30 minutes before rolling.
3. Cut the dough into 5 pieces and roll one piece at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered until ready to use. Roll dough out until thin, but not so thin that you can see your fingers through the dough. Pipe filling in a straight, even line across the dough. Lightly mist or brush dough with water all around the filling so that the dough sticks when pressed together. Pull the edge of the pasta closest to you, up and over the filling. Seal the agnolotti by carefully molding the pasta over the filling and pressing lightly with your index finger to seal the pasta together. Pinch 3/4" sections of dough off with about a 1/2" gap between each "pillow". Cut excess dough away. Using the pasta cutter, cut between each pillow of filling and transfer to a semolina lined tray. Agnolotti can be frozen on the tray and transferred to a ziplock bag once firm or cooked straightaway. I know I really butchered the process description here, so take a look at my video tutorial above and I swear everything will make more sense!
4. Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot. Cook agnolotti 3-4 minutes, until they float. Transfer to a bowl and top with black garlic oxtail, arugula and more parmesan plus freshly cracked pepper. Or toss with butter and parmesan. Or just eat it with nothing. It's your life, do you.
BLACK GARLIC OXTAIL
1 onion, chopped
2 cups dark beer or red wine
salt + pepper
10-15 cloves black garlic
*try to get large pieces of oxtail that have more meat on them. Visit your butcher and ask for this specifically. Sometimes you'll see small cross sections of oxtail and this will work but it will be a pain in the ass to harvest meat from.
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon of neutral oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season oxtail with salt and pepper. Sear oxtail in pan until dark brown, you may need to do this in batches. Return oxtail to pot. Add onion and deglaze with beer or wine, stirring gently to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan (this adds immeasurable flavor). Add water to the pan until oxtail is mostly submerged. Cover and braise in the oven for 3 hours. Remove the lid and cook for 1 more hour. Remove from oven, cover and let sit at room temperature overnight.
2. Skim fat from the top of the pot and discard. Pull meat from each piece of oxtail and discard bones/sinew. Strain braising liquid through a fine mesh strainer into jars or airtight containers. You will want to keep this liquid, it's extremely flavorful beef broth now and can be frozen or stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
3. Place oxtail meat in a pan with 1/2 cup braising liquid and black garlic. Simmer until black garlic is well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Can be served over mashed potatoes or over the agnolotti above or eaten solo. I don't want to tell you how to live your life.