Agnolotti Del Plin
I really enjoy making fresh pasta and gnocchi and over the years I have become pretty good at whipping these up without any fuss but filled pasta, like ravioli, I’ve been less successful with. My attempts at ravioli have been plagued with filling leakages and size variations that would make most Nonnas weep. Invited to take a class at Enoteca Sileno recently I discovered that with a little professional instruction I was able to master it. In particular, I was thrilled to come away with a fool-proof and fast technique for one particular style of filled pasta. Usually making very petite anything is fiddly and time consuming but agnolotti del plin from the Piedmont region of Italy is anything but. While we mostly know agnolotti as large pockets, plin, meaning pinched, are tiny rectangular pillows. Essentially once you roll out the pasta sheets you simply squeeze the filling out as a long, thin sausage (less than the width of your little finger) using a piping bag, moistening your little finger in water run it along the pasta next to the filling and then fold over the dough, pressing down the edge. Next, using the thumb and forefinger of each hand, pinch the long sausage starting at one end to create a little puffed up pillow and continue doing this at thumb nail intervals. The pinched length of pasta is then cut swiftly with a crinkle cut roller cutter into tiny rectangular shapes that look as beautiful as any made by a veteran of the Italian kitchen. The little pinched pasta pockets don’t leak, are quick to make and look so dainty. To speed up any filled pasta making process it is a good idea to make your filling in advance, especially if it is a slow cooked meat filling. It will need time to cook and cool down, so the day before is ideal. Advanced preparation will make the filling process more pleasurable as you won’t have already been on your feet for hours. Fillings can be meat or vegetable based. Sautéed silverbeet mixed with ricotta cheese and an egg is a good mix but remember to dry the leaves before cooking to reduce the water content. For my agnolotti del plin I cooked and puréed some sweet potato (red-skinned kumara) and added a little Béchamel to give a creamy texture and then flavoured it with chopped parsley and a little truffle and porcini mushroom paste. Slow cooked ox tail meat can be blended similarly to a consistency for piping through a piping bag. To cook the agnolotti del plin, toss them in a large pot of boiling water and remove them once they have risen to the surface. Toss the drained pasta with butter and fried sage leaves and/or sauteed wild mushrooms (pines and slippery jacks). Finish with some grated Parmesan cheese. 👌
Enoteca Sileno run a variety of cooking classes throughout the year. Run by professional chefs imparting their extensive knowledge in a small group setting, it is a great way to get some hands-on experience in a relaxed, social environment. Classes conclude with a pleasant lunch of food prepared.