A tomato consommé is an excellent way of cramming in a heap of tomatoey flavour without the richness that you get from using whole tomatoes. As sacrilegious as it feels to be removing all that flesh, a thin, refined consommé can pair wonderfully with a bold pasta filling.
Agnolotti del plin is typically filled with an even punchier combination of meats than we’ve opted for here. A Piedmontese specialty (named for the local word for “pinch”), you’ll usually find it filled with mixed roasted meats, making it a great way to use up dinner leftovers in a way that honours their origins. We blend it all up so that it can be piped in one long strip, but for a chunkier filling, simply line up a row of generous dollops, allowing room for a clean seal.
We love this shape in broth because it captures a little liquid in its envelope-like fold. You’ll get a similar effect with tortellini.
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Use fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes for the fullest flavour. This recipe calls for a pasta maker.
Pasta et Al’s agnolotti del plin with tomato consommé
Prep time: 15 minutes (plus time to make egg dough)
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
1 quantity whole egg or egg yolk dough (below)
60g mortadella, finely chopped
120g minced beef
120g minced pork
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
40g frozen spinach, defrosted, drained and finely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2kg fresh tomatoes, coarsely blended
1 small handful parsley leaves
1 small handful basil leaves
salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
8 egg whites, whisked
To make the pasta filling, fry the mortadella, beef and pork mince in the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat until crispy, 5–8 minutes. Remove from the heat and, once cool, blend into a paste with the other filling ingredients. Load into a piping bag with a medium round tip.
Roll the pasta dough into sheets of around 1.5mm thickness (see handmade pasta tutorial, below), then use the filling to form agnolotti del plin (see agnolotti del plin tutorial, below).
For the consommé, gently sautee the onion and garlic in the oil in a large pot for 15 minutes, or until soft; stir regularly to avoid browning. Add the tomato and herbs, season well, and then cook, uncovered, for another 15–20 minutes.
Strain the mixture, returning the liquid to the pot, and then bring it to a gentle boil before adding the egg whites. Whisk a few times, then allow the whites to form a layer on top of the liquid. Break a gap in the centre to allow bubbles to escape, then cook undisturbed for 15 minutes. The egg whites will help to further clarify the consommé.
Remove from the heat and carefully lift off the egg whites. Strain well through a fine piece of muslin, or similar.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water for 4–5 minutes, or until done, then serve in the consommé.
Almost every egg pasta in the book could be made with the old-fashioned recipe of 100g flour to one egg, per person. In fact, this is where they all began, and it remains a perfectly viable option if you’re pressed for ingredients.
That said, the more that you experiment and tinker, the more you’ll notice the difference that flour substitutions, egg ratios and even a little oil can make.
Note that if using these doughs for filled pasta, you can decrease the ingredients by around one-quarter if you want to. We tend to just knead up a full serve and then stuff pasta until we run out of filling, cutting any remaining dough into bonus unfilled shapes.
Whole egg dough
250g plain flour
150g 00 flour
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
For a wholemeal variation, use 2 parts plain (all-purpose) flour, to 1 part wholemeal (whole-wheat)
Egg yolk dough
360g 00 flour
100g durum semolina flour
18 egg yolks
2 tbsp water
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
No, that’s not a mistake: 18 egg yolks.
Begin with your choice of well-kneaded and rested egg dough (see above). If you’re game, or have only a small amount of dough to work with, flatten it out enough to fit into the thickest pasta machine setting. For everyone else, cut the dough into roughly one-person portions and seal all but the piece you’re about to use in plastic wrap. This will prevent it drying out while you’re hitting social media with progress shots or putting out toddler spot-fires at the other end of the house.
Roll the dough through the thickest setting on the machine a few times, folding it over itself in between passes. It should take on a more consistent texture after a few repetitions. Many people add more flour at this stage if the dough is too wet, but I prefer to lay it out on the pasta board for a few minutes, regularly checking how much it stretches and sticks. Any non-semolina flour that you add to the outside of a sheet will help it pass through the machine, but will also likely stay there, turning your cooked pasta a little gluggy.
Semolina is a better choice to prevent pasta sticking to itself, but won’t help if your dough is more than a little tacky. Learning to control the moisture levels in your pasta by harnessing the elements is a more thoughtful approach, and basically a minor superpower attainable to the home cook.
Incrementally step through the settings on your machine, thick to narrow, until you reach the desired thickness for your pasta. I’m going to be bold and say that this is ultimately a personal preference. Nonna always went thicker, and so I tend to do the same.
Tutorial: agnolotti del plin
These little pillows of pasta are formed with a fold, a pinch and a cut, making them an elegant and ever-so-satisfying shape to craft.
Lay out a long sheet of any egg dough of around 1–1.5mm in thickness.
Pipe a line of filling lengthwise down the centre, about a finger’s width in size. Alternatively, pipe closer to one edge; this will allow space for a second row of pasta but pose more of a challenge when shaping.
Pick up and fold one long edge over the filling. Press down lightly with your fingers where the dough overlaps, following the length of the filling, and removing any trapped air. Seal each end.
Leaving around one finger’s width of flat dough beside the filling, use a pastry cutter to trim the excess unfilled dough. You should now have what looks like a giant filled pappardelle, sealed on one side.
Use both hands to stand up and pinch into individual agnolotti of around one thumb’s width in length.
Finally, use a pastry cutter to cut across the channels that you’ve just pinched, working from the unbroken side to where you first overlapped the dough. As you cut, the pasta will fold over itself forming its final shape. You may need to use your free hand to guide each piece as it topples over and seals.
Pasta et Al by Alec Morris is available now from Hardie Grant.