ELIZABETH HEWSON'S CHICKEN AND MORTADELLA AGNOLOTTI DEL PLIN
SERVES 4 (OR 2 GREEDY PEOPLE)
"Agnolotti del plin hails from Piedmont, where I lived for a year," says Elizabeth Hewson of Saturday Night Pasta. "This meat-filled pasta was one of the first dishes I ate upon my arrival, and the dish I continued to eat at every opportunity throughout the year. ‘Plin’ means ‘pinch’ in Piedmontese dialect and it’s this movement that I find most satisfying. Every time I enjoy agnolotti – made traditionally or not – it transports me back to the streets of Bra and to that magical year of really living."
250 g chicken mince
150 g Salumi Australia off-cut Mortadella
60 g (¾ cup) grated Parmigiano Reggiano,plus extra to serve
3 tablespoons finely snipped chives
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the chicken mince, mortadella, Parmigiano Reggiano, chives, egg and a generous pinch of salt and pepper in a food processor. Blitz for about 2 minutes, until you have a well-combined filling, then set aside in the fridge while you make your pasta. Friends, this filling can be made up to 2 days ahead.
The key to successful stuffed pasta is to keep your pasta really fresh so it seals itself, so it’s best to work in batches to prevent the dough from drying out. Follow the instructions for rolling out the dough on page 38, until your pasta is 1 mm thick.
Lay a pasta sheet on a lightly floured work surface with a long edge facing you. Along the centre of the sheet, dot evenly spaced half teaspoon pieces of filling, keeping them roughly 3 cm apart.
Your pasta should be sticky enough, but if you find that it has dried out a bit, dip your finger in water and run it along the top edge of the dough to moisten it, which will help it stick together.
Fold the bottom edge of the pasta over the filling and seal, taking care to squeeze out any air as you press along the top. With a long sheet of pasta like this, I find it easier to do this working from right to left, or left to right, to ensure that the sheet evenly reaches over the filling.
Trim the top edge of the folded pasta about 5 mm–1 cm above the filling, preferably using a fluted pastry cutter for a pretty, frilly edge to neaten things up.
Now that your filling is neatly covered, here comes the ‘plin’ part. Pinch either side of the filling using both your forefingers and thumbs, much like a crab-claw pincer movement, ensuring that you remove any air. Work your way down the line, pinching between all the fillings. Pinch, pinch, pinch. See, while it’s delicate work, it’s very satisfying.
To finish things off, using your fluted pastry cutter at a 45 degree angle and with a bit of force, quickly cut between each agnolotti to separate them. The rolling motion almost folds the agnolotti over, creating little pockets to cup your lovely broth.
Spread out your agnolotti in a single layer on a well-floured work surface. Whatever you do, don’t let them touch or they will stick together. Repeat until you run out of dough and filling.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a lively boil and season as salty as the sea. Drop your agnolotti into the rapid bubbles.
Place the stock, butter and sage leaves in a large deep frying pan over high heat and bring to the boil. When your pasta is almost cooked – let’s say 80 per cent and the agnolotti have risen to the surface – scoop them directly into your simmering sauce.
Give everything a good swirl to emulsify the sauce and coat each and every agnolotti. Transfer to a large serving bowl and serve in the middle of the table with a healthy amount of Parmigiano Reggiano and a good grind of pepper.