(Extremely Rustic) Culurgiones

029031035039040Ribbet collage063Adapted from: Tasting Table
Makes 6 servings

Although I love making pasta, I’m pretty inexperienced with shaping it. So, naturally, skipping steps as I usually do, I jumped from making ravioli a handful of times to making a very advanced pasta shape. Sure, these aren’t nearly as pretty as they were in the picture, but they are still very interesting-looking and are fun to shape and eat.

Most people haven’t heard of Culurgiones. Basically, they’re like a cross between gnocchi and ravioli. The pasta dough is just your basic pasta dough, except a bit sturdier as it uses semolina flour but no eggs. The filling is a yummy, buttery mashed potato, much like gnocchi. They’re super filling and very decadent, and are the perfect wintertime comfort food.

Of course, if you’re intimidated by the fancy shape, you can always make the same recipe but just shape them like ravioli. These can take pretty much any sauce; I made a Béchamel cream sauce, but you could also top them with pesto sauce, vodka sauce, meat sauce, or whatever else you can think of.

Ingredients:

~¾ pound (2 cups plus 2½ tablespoons) semolina flour
~5 ounces (⅔ cup) water
~½ teaspoon fine sea salt
~1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces
~1 cup grated Pecorino Romano
~1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
~1 egg, lightly beaten
~Salt and pepper

Make the pasta: Combine the semolina flour, water and salt in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low until smooth, for about 7 minutes (if the mixer struggles, stop and mix by hand). Let the dough rest, covered with a damp cloth, for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into thirds and flatten each piece with your hands. Use a pasta machine to roll, starting at the widest setting and moving to a thinner and thinner setting. (Fold the pieces in thirds and start over at the widest setting again. Rolling it through several times, even on the same setting, will make it super smooth.) Once thin, cut the pasta sheets into 3- to 4-inch circles. Keep the circles covered with a damp cloth until ready to fill.

Make the filling: Place the potatoes in a steam basket set in a saucepan with an inch of salted water. Bring to a boil, cover and let steam until a fork can easily pierce the potatoes, about 30 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a medium bowl and, while still hot, mash them until smooth. Mix in the Pecorino and olive oil, then mix in the egg. Season with 25 turns of pepper from a peppermill and 2 pinches of salt. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Stuff and boil the pasta: Lay out the pasta circles. Place 1 scant tablespoon of filling in the middle of each circle. Place between your thumb and index finger. Fold the pasta sphere around the filling so it looks like a taco. Pinch one end of the “taco” (about a 1-centimeter pinch), then take that fold and push it toward the stuffing and pinch again, then take that fold and switch directions, pushing it towards the other side of the stuffing. Continue until you reach the other end of the pasta taco. For further instructions, watch this video. Alternatively, just make ravioli and crimp the edges together with the tines of a fork.

In a heavy-bottomed pot of salted water, boil the pasta for 2½ minutes. To serve: Arrange six culurgiones on each plate. Sprinkle the Pecorino over the pasta. Serve.

Happy dining!!

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