I’ll warn you in advance on this one – if you’ve never made pasta before, set aside pretty much an entire afternoon for making this dish. It is EPIC and you will need balls of steel. Oh, and if you don’t have a pasta machine, set aside about three weeks and space for a mental breakdown, because hand-rolling pasta is an absolute shitting nightmare that will drive you insane. If you reckon you can roll it perfectly thin and evenly then I salute you but I won’t be coming round for dinner because I expect being able to do it makes you some kind of high-functioning autistic serial killer who collects human teeth.
Making your own pasta is awesome. It’s a real pain in the arse the first few times but the difference in quality more than makes up for the extra effort. If you’ve got the kit and put in a bit of practice, it’s well worth it and you’ll get faster at it. Once you’ve got the dough right, you just run it through the rollers, clicking the machine down a notch each time to make it thinner. Not only is this dead easy, but you can also pretend it’s a clothes mangle and you’re a wartime evacuee. I’ve played around with loads of different fillings and sauces for stuffed pasta and this one is the dog’s bollocks (not literally, this isn’t ITV).
The rules with pasta dough are pretty simple. For each 100g or so of flour you’ll need one egg and a splash of olive oil. By a happy coincidence this also equates to about one person’s serving of pasta if you’re cutting it into tagliatelli – for tortellini it goes a fair bit further than that, provided you gather up all your cut-offs and run them back through the machine.
Chorizo & Rocket Tortellini (Serves 4)
For the pasta:
300g high-quality OO flour
3 large eggs
For the filling
Two-thirds of one of those big horseshoes of chorizo, roughly chopped
Tub of ricotta
100g packet of rocket leaves
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
Generous handful of grated parmesan
For the sauce
The other third of the chorizo, cut into slices
5-6 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Tablespoon of tomato puree
Half a metric tonne of butter (adjust according to your own preference, but LOTS)
2 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
LET’S GET CRACKING.
Start with the filling. Heat up a large saucepan with a tiny bit of olive oil and add the chorizo. Cook for a few minutes until the sausage has started to colour and the oils and spices are coming out, then chuck in the red pepper, chilli and tomatoes. Cook until the pepper softens and add the rocket. Stir until the rocket just wilts, then turn off the heat and leave to cool for a bit. Have a cup of tea or touch yourself or something (wash your hands once you’re done) and then transfer everything from the saucepan into a food processor. Add the parmesan, egg and ricotta and a good pinch of salt and pepper, then process until it’s all smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stick it in the fridge to cool right down.
Now it’s time to sort the dough out. Measure out your flour into a large bowl and make a dent in the middle of it with your fingers. Then crack the eggs into the well along with a good slug of olive oil and plenty of well-ground salt and pepper (big chunks when you’re rolling pasta thin can make it tear). Add plenty of paprika – this doesn’t add much flavour-wise, but makes the tortellini a funky orange colour which is perfect for this dish and I’m all for that kind of artistic tomfoolery. Use a wooden spoon to combine everything until it’s formed a fairly dry-looking dough that’s a bit crumbly – as eggs are all slightly different sizes, add a little extra flour if it seems too wet.
Flour the work surface and start kneading the dough. At first it’ll tear a lot and come apart but the longer you do it, the less dry it’ll seem, the more the colours will blend and it’ll start feeling more elastic. Knead for at least ten minutes, until you’ve got a good springy ball that’s uniform in colour and doesn’t feel wet to the touch. Wrap it tightly in cling film to stop it drying out as you won’t be using it all at once.
Either get your pasta machine ready (clamp it to the work surface and dust the rollers with flour) or get your rolling pin and your insane mind prepped. Tear off a ball of dough and run it through the largest setting, then fold the sheet back on itself and run it through again. Do this a few times on the largest setting until your pasta is the right width, and then start adjusting the machine and rolling it through once on each setting. Keep flouring the sheet and work surface to stop the dough sticking. If the sheet’s too long and getting all over the place you can also cut it in half and run each piece through on their own. Keep doing this until you’ve got pasta rolled down to the thinnest setting. Work in batches assembling the tortellini rather than rolling all the pasta out at once, because you don’t want it to dry out.
Get two floured chopping boards ready; one for assembling the tortellini and one for putting it once you’re all done. Using a round pastry cutter (the bigger the cutter, the bigger the tortellini and the less faffing about you’ll be doing, the size is up to you), cut out discs of pasta and move to the assembly board. Get a mug of water ready and fetch your filling from the fridge.
Using two teaspoons to keep your fingers clean and dry, put a dollop of filling in the centre of each disc. How much depends on how big your discs are but it’s surprisingly little – try it out until you get it right, bearing in mind the disc has to fold over on itself and cover the filling entirely with enough space left to seal up the pasta.
This is the absurdly fiddly bit. Pick up a disc and keep it in the palm of one hand. Dip one finger of your other hand into the water and run it round the whole edge of the disc. Now fold the pasta over the filling to make a tiny Cornish pasty of deliciousness, gently rubbing out any air pockets. If there’s air in the pasta when it goes into boil, it will explode and EVERYONE IN YOUR HOUSE WILL DIE. Only joking! Only half the people in your house will die. This isn’t a lie, because if after all this effort your pasta just explodes in the saucepan because you haven’t got the air pockets out, you will go on rage-fuelled killing spree out of sheer fucking frustration. Once you’ve got your Cornish pasty shape, wet one of the flat corners and poke the filling in the middle of the flat edge. Bend around that dent and stick the two corners together. You should be left with a fully finished little tortellini that looks a bit like a sailor’s hat. Put it onto your other chopping board and cover with a tea towel to stop it drying out.
Repeat what will feel like a million times until you have enough tortellini for however many ungrateful pricks you are feeding, making sure you keep your assembly board dry and floured to prevent anything sticking where you don’t want it to. Also make sure you gather up your leftover bits of dough and combine them back together by rolling them through the largest setting of the machine, folding and repeating until the pasta feels right again.
Now you’ve got all your tortellini ready to go, get a big saucepan of water on to boil, along with plenty of salt and a slug of olive oil (this helps stop the tortellini sticking together in the water). Now it’s sauce time, bitches!
The finished sauce should be good and chunky to provide some texture, with the flavoured butter coating the tortellini to keep it suitably tasty and non-claggy. First of all melt your butter in a frying pan, then add the chorizo and again heat until the spices and oils start coming out. Add some extra paprika and the tomatoes, oregano, sundried tomatoes, chilli and tomato puree. Cook on a medium heat until the fresh tomatoes have pretty much disintegrated, then keep warm on a low heat while you cook the tortellini.
With your water on a rolling boil, tip in all the tortellini at once, giving it a quick stir to stop it sticking together. It should sink to the bottom at first so also move it around to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan and coming apart. Cooking fresh pasta shouldn’t take long at all – 3 or 4 minutes once the water’s returned to the boil, or until the tortellini rises to the top. Drain the pasta well, tip into the frying pan of sauce, toss to coat it all and then serve in bowls with plenty of parmesan and black pepper. Oh, and don’t forget to BASK IN THE ADMIRATION OF YOUR PEERS.
Sorry about the rubbish pic, I am useless at taking them.