The Food Groupie Club

Hi my name is Sarah and I'm addicted to food. I have been a chef professionally for about 12 years now and am currently teaching cooking classes at a culinary school. I seriously love to cook and eat good food. The problem with cooking and eating like the professionals though is that it can be kind of intimidating for a home food enthusiast. My goal is to bring good food into every-day homes. Anyone can make healthy, good quality, good tasting, and good looking food with the right know-how. So here you made easy by a professional!

I will be featuring some of my favorite chef's recipes in my posts and will note in the post what book was used. Their books that I use will be listed in my must have cookbooks tab.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sweet Potato Agnolotti With Curry Emulsion

Thomas Keller French Laundry Cookbook Page 78, 80

I'm going to start by addressing the elephant in the room. I know you are all thinking, "what on earth is agnolotti?"  I had never heard of it either until a few months back when I did it with one of my classes on their Keller 5 course menu day. This is a recipe that this class's regular chef  has them prepare every module. This was my first time teaching that particular class, hence my first experience with this dish. Even though I have made it before, I still wanted to showcase this in my first posting because its so genius. Gotta love the Italians for being pasta genius's! Its basically the Piedmont version of regular ravioli.  I hate making home made ravioli. Its hard to get everything evenly spaced, then you have to mess with egg wash, then line up two perfectly shaped pieces of pasta sheets, and press it all together then finally cut them. Too much work. Too inconsistent in shape and size. Hate the air pockets.  Too messy.  This is a much easier and faster method that will make you wonder why they even still make ravioli. These also freeze well so you can make a bunch and freeze them for future dinners.   If you do decide to tackle this recipe, you have to make your own pasta dough. Its not hard at all, and only takes a few ingredients.  You must have a pasta machine though. The pasta sheets you will be making for this have to be super thin, which you will not be able to accomplish by hand. You should have a pasta machine anyways. Once again, keep your eyes peeled at the discount kitchen stores and you can usually find one for under $20. You'll spend more than that on one crummy meal at The Olive Garden. 

Step 1: Make the dough

1 3/4 c. All purpose flour
6 Large egg yolks
1 Large egg
1 1/2 tsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Milk

The dough that T.K. uses is a high ratio egg yolk dough. Most pasta dough recipes I have used before only have a couple eggs. This has 6 yolks + 1 whole egg. This makes the dough a lot softer and richer. I will never go back to another dough recipe again. You can also make this ahead of time and as long as it stays wrapped tight, it can keep for a couple days.  I also like that he incorporates extra virgin olive oil in this dough. It gives it a really nice flavor. He doesn't include any salt though. I thought it needed a little. I would add just a pinch or two just to give it a little more flavor.  All you need to do to make the dough is pile the flour on a cutting board and make a well in the center. I however like to use a bowl for this. Its less messy and I feel like I have more control of the ingredients. Do whatever makes you happy.  Then just put all the wet ingredients (eggs, oil, milk) right into that well. I like making pasta because you get to get your hands dirty. Don't use a spoon. Nothing can beat the God given tools here that are connected to your arms. With your four fingers just swirl the wet ingredients around so it grabs the flour from the sides.

Once all the eggs and flour are incorporated it will look like the picture on the left.  Now you just turn this out onto a floured cutting board and knead it F-O-R-E-V-E-R. 
T.K recommends hand kneading it for 15 minutes. He actually says "even if you think you are done kneading, knead it for an extra 10 minutes".  I will admit.... this is painful. I vote if you have a kitchen aid with a dough arm, throw it in there. Unless you're shooting for one freakishly large bicep on one side, the mixer is your better bet. He is telling the truth though when he says you cannot over mix this dough. You can however undermix it, so make sure you go the full time.  It should be smooth and silky like the picture on the right when it is done being kneaded. Wrap it tight and LET IT REST! Resting is so important. Let it go at least an hour. Skip this step and you'll be sorry. If you have ever worked with regular bread dough and seen it stretch and retract when it isn't rested properly, it will do the same thing here. Let it get nice and soft and squishy.
Step 2: Its sauce time!

2 tsp. Curry Powder
2 Tbs. Chopped green onions
3/4 c + 2 Tbs. stock (vegetable or chicken) or water
1/4 c. Heavy cream
1/4 c. Creme Fraiche
8 Tbs. Unsalted butter, but into chunks
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

The curry emulsion sauce was easier than I thought it would be. This would be good on a lot of different things actually.  In case you don't know what an emulsion guessed it, I will tell you.  I totally have to go all Bill Nye the science guy on you though.  Its a uniformly combined mixture of two or more liquids.  Vinaigrette's are an example of a temporary emulsion. The oil and vinegar will stay blended together as long as the fat particles are small enough to suspend in the liquid. That is why we shake or whisk them. The shaking breaks up the fat particles. However, they will separate back out once the fat particles gather back together and get too heavy again causing them to sink. Permanent emulsions, like mayonnaise, are held together with an emulsifying agent (egg yolks). The proteins in the egg yolks hold everything together which is why we don't have to give our mayo a shake shake every time you use it. phew. I'm now exiting Bill Nye mode.....

I once again did not have creme fraiche in hand so I subbed it with sour cream thinned out with water. You first toast the curry in a sauce pot. Toasting does something magical to everything. Its a great way to bring out flavor in food. Once you can smell the curry, add the green onions to it and saute for just a minute. Then just add cream, creme fraiche, and the water or stock and let it simmer until thick like in the picture on the left.  Creme fraiche is super cool because you can cook with it and it doesn't curdle like sour cream does. If you missed my post about creme fraiche you can read about it again here on the Joy of Baking website.  If you use sour cream instead of the creme fraiche, do NOT add it in at this point, it will curdle.  Add it after you remove the sauce from the heat.  Anyways, once the sauce is thick as pictured, you swirl in you butter (heat should be OFF at this point) and just stir it until the butter melts and incorporates into the sauce. Now you can add the sour cream if you are using it as a sub.  At this point just pour it into the blender and turn it on.  It will look like the picture on the right after its blended. If you aren't a curry fan, I think you will still like this. Its not an over powering curry like in most Indian dishes. It just really gives it a nice heat in your throat. If the sauce is too thick after removing it from the blender, you can thin it our with a little more hot water or stock. That's it. Oh and season with salt and pepper.

I actually ended up not being able to finish this dish in one day, so I had to fridge the sauce and save it for the next day when I finished the agnolotti's.  It got thicker in the fridge, but when I was ready to coat my cooked pasta in it, I just poured it out into the saute pan with the pasta and added a little of the pasta water to it to make it the consistency I wanted.
Step 3: Making the agnolotti

This is where is gets awesomely easy.  Seriously, if you love fresh ravioli but hate making them, you are going to fall in love today.
Part 1: The filling

2 pounds Sweet potatoes (The original recipe calls for fava beans. I couldn't get any so I subbed the sweet potatoes)
3/4 c. panko bread crumbs
1/3 c. Mascarpone cheese

  You can use ANY filling you want. The French Laundry book gives several suggestions. Basically as long as its soft you can use it. T.K. gives the example that you can't use whole shrimp but you can use shrimp mousse.  This curry emulsion recipe actually originally called for pureed fava beans for the filling. My vegetable stand no longer has them. (super bummed about this) I had to make a quick substitution and I chose to make a sweet potato filling.  I decided to oven roast my sweet potatoes as the cooking method because I like the flavor this way over boiling. Let me say this: Sweet holy Moses it takes forever to roast sweet potatoes!  I just put the whole sweet potatoes in a foil pouch with some butter and roasted them at 350 degrees and a whoppin' 3 hours later they were finally ready! You want them to get super soft though so they mash easily. Oh, sweet potatoes and yams..... not the same thing! The texture is way different. Yams are more stringy in texture after cooking. Not a fan using them as a filling in things. So I spent an eternity roasting the sweet potatoes. When they were finally done, I just peeled them while they were hot (the skin pulls right off) and then mashed them up really good and mixed in mascarpone cheese (similar to cream cheese but not as sweet) and salt and pepper.  Filling done.

 Part 2: Fill the angolotti

Its finally time to bust out the pasta machine! Break the dough into small pieces maybe the size of the palm of your hand. I have tiny hands. If yours are big, do maybe your inner palm size. Hopefully you get the idea.  Pass it through your machine starting on setting 1. Keep passing the sheet through adjusting the rollers 1 setting up at a time until you reach setting 7. You should be able to see your fingers through the dough.  If the ends get pointy and weird (not square) just fold the points in on itself before one of the passes. You want the final sheet to be even in width. If there is a little point on the end, you can just square it off with your pastry cutter. You need the length to fit on a cutting board if you don't have solid counter tops (not tile).  If you do have solid ones, you can just do this right on your counter top and you don't need to worry about the length. If you are using a cutting board just cut the strip in half to fit the board. Only roll out and fill one sheet at a time otherwise the dough may dry out because its so thin.

Using a fluted edge pastry roller, trim the edges on all sides so the edges are pretty.  Lay the pasta sheet on a well floured surface and pipe the filling from a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip in a straight line the full length of the sheet.  Pipe along the bottom edge leaving about an inch space from the bottom and sides like in the pictures below.
Roll the 1 inch  exposed edge of pasta over the filling and press down to seal.
Using your index finger and thumb pinch the pasta and filling leaving about 1 inch between pinches. This will form the individual agnolotti.  This dough ends up self sealing, with is why an egg wash is completely unnecessary in any of the steps.
Lastly, using your fluted pastry roller, cut the individual pieces buy rolling through the center of each pinch. Make sure its centered in the pinch so you don't cut through the filling. Once again, make sure you have plenty of flour on the board, otherwise they stick and will be hard to remove from the board.
Step 4: Cook and serve

If you are planning on cooking these immediately get a pot of salted water boiling before you start shaping the agnolotti. Water must be rapidly boiling before you add your pasta to it. I just want to add in a quick pasta cooking note.  You do not need to add any type of olive oil to the water when you cook pasta to "prevent sticking".  {I know a bunch of the food network chef's say to do it, but they are stupid [ ah hem.... Rachel Ray]  and I think are in a conspiracy with the olive oil industry. } Oil and water do not combine. That is fact.  As long as the pasta is wet, oil will not cling to it to prevent any type of sticking during the cooking process.  Making sure the water is rapidly boiling will help though.  The bubbles keep the pasta moving which keeps them from sticking.  So save your oil and stop doing this if you currently do.  

Drop the agnolotti into the boiling water and let them cook until they float to the top. This takes about 1 minute to happen. Let them cook about and additional 1-2 minutes before removing with a slotted spoon or a strainer like I did below. Pasta should whitish in color and be al dente { which means not mushy, but firm to the tooth. } Just break a little edge off of the tail of one of the pieces and taste it. If you are unsure what you are looking for texturally, stick to the 1-2 minute cooking time suggested above. You'll be fine.
Finally, in a large saute pan slightly warm your sauce and drop the hot cooked pasta straight into the sauce. Just toss to coat and you're ready to eat.  One thing that is cool about this weirdly shaped heavenly pillow is that there are more nooks and crannies for the sauce to hide in so it gets a better saucing then regular ravioli and has a better pasta to filling ratio.
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1 comment:

  1. Chef Sara....Im in Mod 11 and making serving this today. We made the agnolloti yesterday and I was researching presentation as you know we are in competition class. Thank you for posting this as now Ive found your food blog and got to see your pic with Thomas Keller that you talked about in class. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us to help us be better chefs. -Terra


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