Thursday, 7 August 2014

New potato and thyme pansotti with smoked ham hock, broad beans and potato broth

I often struggle to think up new recipes to cook for this blog. I guess a kind of cooking block. I’ll have certain ingredients that I want to use in mind, but the finished dish will shift and change many times until I’m ready to get cooking. However frustrating it is at the time, this constant editing and reworking definitely results in better dishes. But I never know when the eureka moment will come, I could be walking to work or dozing off to sleep when that final piece slots into place and I’m truly satisfied. 

The flip side, are the meals that I make spontaneously, almost accidently making something and then thinking ‘hang on, this is actually quite good; I’ll take a quick photo and stick it on the blog’. This often occurs after a trip to see my parents and a visit to their allotment, when I drive home with a glut of seasonal vegetables. And that’s exactly what happened here. Dad scraped a fork along a random bit of earth and these amazing new potatoes appeared. It was all really impressive. A few plump broad bean pods and some sprigs hacked from their rosemary ‘tree’ joined them in my goody bag that sat next to me smelling amazing in the car on the way home. As usual, I was in a quandary with what to do. The logical thing would have been simply boiled potatoes with the fresh herbs and beans and lashings of butter. That probably would have done everything justice, but I wanted to do something more.

I’ve wanted to make filled pasta with mashed potato as a filling ever since a chef-friend told me about it a few years ago. The idea of carb filled with carb was a funny one, but the more I thought about it the more it seemed to work. I love thinly-sliced potatoes on top of bianco style pizzas, and the same flavour combinations work in this recipe. The key is to make the potato filling as light as possible and full of flavour. This, combined with the ham, herbs and beans makes for a comforting a tasty dinner. Adding the potato skins to the broth was a bit of an experiment after hearing about a potato infused soup recently and I was surprised that it really worked, giving a lovely mellow savoury flavour.    

I learned recently that pansotti means something like ‘greedy bellies’ in Italian, which makes me love it even more.

Serves 4


For the pasta:

300g ‘00’ grade flour
3 medium eggs
1 tbsp olive oil

For the filling:

2 handfuls of new potatoes, washed
2 tbsp parmesan, finely grated
1 garlic clove, finely grated
3 sprigs mint, leaves picked and finely chopped
3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and finely chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the broth:

1 small cooked smoked ham hock, meat shredded into large chunks and bone reserved
500ml good chicken stock
The finely chopped rind from the parmesan (optional)
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
5 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
Shells and pods from the broad beans
1 lemon, juice only

To finish:

2 handfuls broad beans, podded and shelled
2 tbsp parmesan, finely grated
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked

Preheat the oven to 180⁰C.

Put the new potatoes in a baking tray and coat with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Add the bone from the ham hock and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until cooked and soft in the middles. Remove the bone and set aside until later. Halve the potatoes whilst they are still warm and pass through a sieve into a bowl. Keep the skins. Add the garlic, parmesan, mint, thyme and olive oil along with a good amount of salt and pepper and combine well. Taste and adjust if necessary then allow to cool.

While the potatoes are cooking make the pasta dough. Put the flour, eggs, oil and a generous pinch of salt into a bowl and mix well until combined. Tip out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead well for at least 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic in texture. Wrap with cling film and put in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.

When the pasta dough is rested and the filling cooled start to make the pansotti. Roll the dough through your pasta machine about ten times on the widest setting, then pass down through each gradient until the thinnest (number 6 on an Imperia machine). Cut the pasta sheet into 12 4-by-4 inch squares. Spoon a tablespoon of the potato filling into the middle of each square and brush a little water onto one diagonal side. Carefully fold each square to form a triangular shape, pushing out as much air as possible in the sealing process. Trim away any excess pasta from the edges and to neaten up.  Place the finished pansotti onto a lightly floured piece of greaseproof paper, loosely wrap with cling film and refrigerate until needed.

For the broth, add a little oil to a saucepan and set on a medium heat. Cook the shallots, garlic thyme and rosemary for about 8-10 minutes until soft. Pour in the chicken stock along with the ham bone, parmesan rind and broad bean pods. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the potato skins and cook for another 5 minutes, then strain through a sieve into another pan. 

Fill a large saucepan up with well-salted water and bring to the boil.

Reheat the broth to a simmer.

When the pasta water boils, tip in the pansotti and cook for 3 minutes. When cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove from the water and put three in each bowl.

While the pasta is cooking, add the ham pieces and broad beans to the strained broth and heat through for a few minutes. Squeeze in the lemon juice and taste for seasoning.

To serve, spoon the broth over the pansotti in each bowl including a good amount of ham and beans. Finish by scattering over the spring onion, thyme leaves and parmesan.

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