John Besh's Crawfish Agnolotti with Morels
Adapted from John Besh's "My New Orleans, The Cookbook
My friend, Maria, who is from New Orleans and loves food as much as me, turned me on to John Besh. I must say, after reading his "My New Orleans, The Cookbook," I have developed quite a crush on the man. His crawfish agnolotti recipe caught my attention and it was the first recipe I decided to make from his cookbook. John Besh's instructions are on point and my first attempt at this recipe was a huge success. The agnolotti were fabulous. There are many steps so my only word of caution is to read through the entire recipe before starting.
For the Filling:
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup peeled and deveined fresh crawfish tails
- 2 cups mascarpone cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon
- 1 recipe for Basic Pasta Dough
For the Sauce:
- 1/4 cup finely chopped bacon
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup cleaned fresh morels or other wild mushrooms, halved lengthwise (I used shitake mushrooms)
- 1/4 cup shelled peas
- 3/4 cup Basic Shellfish Pan Sauce (see recipe below)
- 1/2 cup peeled and deveined crawfish tails
- 2 small tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons cold butter, diced
For the Basic Shellfish Pan Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup minced fennel bulb
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
- leaves from 1 sprig fresh tarragon
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup dry vermouth
- 1 cup basic shellfish stock (see recipe below)
For the Basic Shellfish Stock:
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 leek, white part coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 pound shells from shrimp, blue crab, crawfish, or lobster
- 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig thyme
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Step 1: For the filling: Heat the oil in a medium skillet over moderate heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the crawfish. Transfer to a food processor, along with the mascarpone, tarragon, and a pinch of salt.
Step 2: Pulse until the mixture is smooth. Scoop the puree into a pastry bag fitted with a large or medium round tip and refrigerate.
Step 3: For the pasta: Cut the pasta dough in quarters. Re-wrap the remaining 3 of the 4 pieces in plastic wrap and set 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 to setting 6). Lay the resulting pasta sheet on a lightly floured surface with a long side facing you. Trim the edges so they are straight.
Step 4: Pipe 1/4 of the crawfish filling onto the past in one long line, about 1 inch from the edge of the long side closest to you. With a pastry brush, dipped in water, moisten the pasta on the other side of the filling (to help seal). Then, carefully roll the dough over and around the filling one and a half times. Repeat with the remaining pasta.
Step 5: To shape agnolotti: Using your two index fingers spread 1-1/2 inches apart, make indentations along each roll of pasta, starting at one end and continuing all the way down to the other.
Step 6: You have now formed little pillows in the dough. Crimp the pillows where you've indented them by pinching them closed at every crimp, carefully sealing the dough so that they don't burst open while cooking. Using a pastry or pasta wheel, cut between pillows at each crimp. Place agnolotti on a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Place the agnolotti in the refrigerator (or they can be frozen) until you are ready to cook.
Step 7: For the Basic Shellfish Stock: Heat canola oil in a large pot over moderate heat. Cook the onions, celery, carrots, leeks, and garlic, stirring often, until they are soft but not brown, about 3 minutes.
Step 8: Add the shellfish shells, the bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, and 3 quarts water. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the surface, until the stock has reduced by half, about 2 hours.
Step 9: Strain through a fine sieve into a container with a cover. Allow the stock to cool, cover, and refrigerate, then skim off the fate. Freeze the stock in small batches to use later.
Step 10: Basic Shellfish Pan Sauce: Heat oil in a small skillet over moderate heat. Add the onions, garlic, fennel, and pepper flakes. Cook the vegetables, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the thyme, tarragon, bay leaf, cream, vermouth, and stock, increase heat to high, and reduce the sauce by half, 10 to 12 minutes. Strain sauce.
Step 11: For the sauce: cook the the bacon in a medium skillet over moderate heat for about 2 minutes.
Step 12: Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring a few times for another 2 minutes. Add the morels or wild mushrooms, the peas, and the shellfish pan sauce and cook for another 2 minutes.
Step 13: Stir in the crawfish, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and butter.
Step 14: Cook until the butter melts, about 1 minute.
Step 15: While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water over medium high heat. Working in batches, carefully add the agnolotti to the boiling water and cook them for 2 minutes. Use a large slotted spoon to transfer the cooked agnolotti to a large platter, and drizzle a little melted butter to keep them from sticking to one another.
Step 16: Just before serving, spoon the sauce over the pasta.