A traditional recipe from Piedmont
Agnelotti del Plin - a typical Piedmontese dish that you can find in almost every restaurant in Piemonte. We have been asking ourselves what 'del plin' means all week long but we have finally found the answer. It comes from the regional dialect for "pinch" which is how you form the pasta" You pinch two sheets of pasta together "fare il plin" to create the small pouches. The small pasta parcels are filled with a combination of vegetables or meat before they are being served in a sauce of butter, cheese or something else.
We have found a great recipe for the agnolotti del plin from Eataly (a brand that we are a huge fan of)!
Pour yourself a good robust glass of Barolo/Barbaresco and start with the ‘fare il plin’:
Agnolotti del Plin
Recipe courtesy of Eataly
For the Dish:
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water
8-10 tablespoons butter
10 sage leaves
1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
1 fresh white truffle (optional!)
For the Agnolotti Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 whole large eggs, plus 3 egg yolks
For the Agnolotti Filling:
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves only
1-pound ground veal shoulder
1 pound ground pork
1 ½ pounds spinach, washed, and spun-dry, roughly chopped
¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3 large eggs
Freshly-grated nutmeg, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the dough:
Sift and then mound 3 cups of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated.
Start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands. Knead for about 15 minutes, adding any of the remaining flour if necessary to create a cohesive mass. Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board scrape up, and discard any leftover bits. Lightly re-flour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
To make the filling:
Bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.
In a 12-inch saucepan, add 1 tablespoon of butter over high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook until the garlic is light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the veal and pork meat and brown the meat on all sides, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, to taste. Do not be afraid to let the meat begin to caramelize a bit.
Cook the spinach in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain it well and add it to the meat. Stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano, eggs, a pinch of nutmeg, salt, and pepper, to taste. Use a wooden spoon to mix until it is well combined, then set this aside.
To form the agnolotti:
Cut the pasta dough into 3 equally sized pieces. Re-wrap 2 of the pieces in plastic wrap and set them aside. Begin working with the 1 unwrapped piece of dough. On a lightly floured work surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll out the pasta dough until it is 1/8-inch thick. You can also use a pasta machine and roll out the dough on its thinnest setting.
Lay the resulting pasta sheet on a lightly floured surface with a long side facing you and trim the edges so they are straight. Using a tablespoon, scoop equally sized spoonfuls of the filling and place them along the bottom half of the pasta sheet, leaving a 1½-inch border of dough at the bottom and sides. Each dollop of filling should be approximately 1½ inches away from the next. Pull the top edge of the pasta up and over the filling. The dough should form 1 large pocket over the dollops of filling. Seal the agnolotti by gently molding the pasta over the filling and pressing lightly with your index finger to seal the edge of the dough to the pasta sheet; being sure not to drag your finger along the dough to seal, or you risk ripping the dough. When it is sealed, there should be about ½-inch of excess dough visible along the bottom of the mounds of the filling (where you sealed it). Be certain that you are sealing tightly while pressing out any pockets of air. Seal the left and right ends of the dough.
To shape the agnolotti:
Starting at one end of the dough, place the thumb and forefinger of each hand together as if you were going to pinch something and, leaving about 1 inch of space between your hands and holding your fingers vertically, pinch the filling in 1-inch increments, making about ¾ inch of "pinched" area between each pocket of filling. It is important to leave this much "pinched" area between the agnolotti to ensure that the agnolotti do not become unsealed when they are separated. Run a sharp knife or crimped pastry wheel along the bottom edge of the folded-over dough, separating the strip of filled pockets from the remainder of the pasta sheet. Do not cut too close to the filling, or you risk breaking the seal. Separate the individual agnolotti by cutting the center of each pinched area, and rolling the pastry wheel away from you. Working quickly, place the agnolotti on a baking sheet dusted with a thin layer of cornmeal, which will help prevent sticking. Do not let the agnolotti touch each other or they may stick together.
Repeat with the 2 remaining dough balls until the entire bowl of filling has been used. Let the shaped agnolotti rest for 24 minutes.
To cook and assemble the dish:
Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add the fresh agnolotti, stirring gently, and cook them for 3-4 minutes or until the agnolotti is bobbing on the surface of the water.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Lay the sage leaves in the pan and heat until the butter is sizzling gently. Toast the leaves for about 1 minute, then remove them.
Add 1 cup of water to the butter, then swirl the pan and simmer for about 2 minutes, reducing the liquid by half. Keep the sauce hot over very low heat.
Drain the agnolotti and add them to the sauce in the pan. Toss and cook them for about 1 minute over medium heat until the sauce is bubbling. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the grated cheese.