Now that you've learned how to make homemade pasta, it's time to up the ante! How would you like to make tender bite-sized pillows of pasta, plump with a creamy filling? Yes? Sounds good, right? It's easier and quicker than you might imagine. Take a look at this method — demonstrated by a pro: Bill Briwa, an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America's Greystone campus.
This tutorial comes to you from the Culinary Institute of America, where I attended a workshop hosted by the United States Potato Board earlier this week. One of the sessions was a chefs' feast of potato creativity, with chefs from all over the country cooking and assembling some pretty creative potato dishes (potato risotto! potato tabbouleh! pickled potatoes!), led by Chef Briwa.
I was keenly interested in one of the dishes in particular: a potato-filled agnolotti. Agnolotti are like ravioli's smaller, squarer cousin, easier to fill and cut out. Briwa demonstrates the technique here for you — doesn't it look simple? Watching him, it seemed so easy and quick. I am certainly going to find a good night to make these soon!
How To Fill and Shape Agnolotti Pasta
What You Need
1 batch Fresh Egg Pasta
1 batch Potato-Mascarpone Filling (recipe below)
Butter and herbs, to serve
Big cutting board
Sharp chef's knife
Large pastry bag
Large pastry tip
Pasta wheel cutter
1. Make a batch of fresh egg pasta and "knead" with the pasta machine. Instead of extensively kneading the fresh pasta dough, fold it and run it through a pasta maker on one of the thicker settings. Fold the pasta sheet over on itself and run it through the pasta maker again. Repeat 8 to 10 times, or until the pasta is very smooth and elastic.
2. Let the pasta rest. Wrap the pasta in plastic and let it rest at room temperature for about half an hour.
3. Roll out the pasta. Unwrap the pasta and run it through the pasta maker again on one of the thinner settings.
4. Cut the pasta into rectangular sheets. As the sheet of pasta comes off the pasta maker, lay it on a floured board and cut it into rectangular sheets about 12 inches long. Sprinkle flour lightly on each sheet after you cut it, and continue stacking sheets on top of each other.
5. Pipe out the filling. Pull one sheet of pasta off the top of the stack. Put the potato-mascarpone filling in a large pastry bag fitted with a wide tip (it should be at least 1/2-inch across). Pipe a straight line of filling lengthwise on the pasta sheet, leaving enough pasta at the top to fold over the filling.
6. Make a pasta tube around the filling. Fold the pasta top over the filling. Press firmly to seal. You can moisten the tip of your finger and run it along the seam if it doesn't want to stick together. Use a wheeled pasta cutter or a sharp knife to cut the filled tube of pasta away from the rest of the sheet, making sure to keep the sealed strip intact.
7. Make and cut the agnolotti pockets. Use the tips of your fingers to pinch the tube of pasta into equally-sized sections, creating a seal between pockets of filling. Use the wheeled pasta cutter or a sharp knife to separate the sections. Quickly cut through each, leaning the tube of pasta in the direction you're cutting. You should be left with small, individual pockets of filled pasta. Place the finished agnolotti in a tray of coarse cornmeal.
8. Repeat and store. Repeat until all of the pasta sheets and filling have been used. At this point the pasta can be cooked right away, covered and refrigerated overnight, or frozen, or frozen. To freeze, freeze until solid on a large baking tray, then transfer to containers or freezer bags.
9. Cook the pasta: To cook fresh or frozen agnolotti, cook in a large pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes or until tender. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil or melted butter and a sprinkle of chopped herbs such as parsley or basil.
Truffled Potato-Mascarpone Filling
1/2 pound mashed potatoes, prepared from instant or from your favorite recipe
3 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon truffle oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix the mashed potatoes with the mascarpone and truffle oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use.
→ Want to learn the basics? How To Make Fresh Pasta From Scratch
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(Images: Faith Durand)