If you’re looking to up your culinary craft this weekend, this recipe straight from the French Laundry Cookbook should get you inspired. It’s technically challenging, but should you make it through all the steps you’ll end up with a homemade agnolotti filled with bacon and sweet potatoes, covered in a fresh Sage Cream, and drizzled with brown butter and pieces of prosciutto. It’s a fantastic way to welcome in October, and for me, this was a birthday meal I’m sure to remember!
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The French Laundry is a high-end restaurant that gets its name from the 1920s when the building was used to steam laundry. In 1978 the building was turned into a restaurant and is now known for serving high-end food and winning several awards!
I asked my husband Amin, to get me the French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller last year for Christmas and I was so happy that he did! Inside was this delicious recipe. After reading it over several times, I got a bit nervous. While the ingredients list is fairly short, there are several cooking techniques that are used to create the dough, the agnolotti, and the sauce that really did intimidate me. Fortunately, it all turned out perfectly and now I’m going to give that recipe to you. I’m going to try to break down the recipe into steps (which isn’t how it was in the book) and I’m going to try to walk you through the steps.
While you can make this all in one day as I did, but I recommend taking some of that stress off, and making part of the recipe on one day, and finishing it the next. This is by no means an easy recipe (or at least it wasn’t for me) so please read it over several times, make sure you have everything you need before you start.
For the Sweet Potato Filling:
1 1/2lbs Sweet Potatoes
8 Tablespoons (4oz) unsalted butter cut into 1 tablespoon pieces and divided.
2 slices of Bacon
Pinch of allspice or nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Pasta Dough:
1 3/4 cup (8oz) all-purpose flour
6 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon milk
For the Sage Cream:
1/3 cup Sage leaves (about 4 bunches; separate the big leaves from the small since the small will be fried and used as a garnish.
1 cup Creme Fraiche
16 tablespoons of butter chopped into pieces
1 tablespoon of water
Pinch of salt
Canola oil for deep-frying
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (this is for the brown butter)
4 thin slices of prosciutto, cut crosswise into a fine julienne (If you forget these as I did it’s okay the meal will still be delicious)
I’m going to break this up into days, however, if you’re ambitious and would like to do them all in one day just continue through the directions.
For Day 1:
1.) Make the Sweet Potato Filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Feiringheit. Cut the ends off the potatoes and wrap the potatoes individually in aluminum foil, dividing 4 tablespoons of the butter evenly among them. Bake until they are soft, 1-2 hours depending on the size of the potatoes. (I checked mine after an hour and they were done).
While the potatoes are cooking, place the diced bacon in a skillet. Cook until it is lightly browned and the fat has been rendered. Transfer the bacon pieces to paper towels to drain briefly, and then add them to the potatoes.
Unwrap the cooked potatoes and cut a slit lengthwise in the skin of each. Pull the skin away from the potato and discard it. Push the potato through a potato ricer while they are hot and place in a saucepan.
Stir the potatoes over low heat, season with the allspice and nutmeg and salt and pepper. Mix the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. You will have about 1 2/3 cups filling (enough to fill 48 agnolotti). Refrigerate the filling until chilled, for up to 2 days before filling the agnolotti.
1.) Make the Pasta Dough and form the agnolotti: To make the pasta dough, take the flour and pour it a pile on your work surface, hollow out the center so that there’s a well (it will look like a wreath of flour).
in a separate container, separate 6 egg yolks, add in one whole egg, the tablespoon of milk, and the 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil.
Pour the mixture into the center of the flour well. Use your fingers to break the eggs up. Still using your fingers, begin turning the eggs in a circular motion, keeping them within the well and not allowing them to spill over the sides. It’s important that the flour not be incorporated too rapidly, or your dough will be lumpy. Keep moving eggs while slowly incorporating the flour. The mixture will thicken and eventually get too tight to keep turning with your fingers.
When the dough begins to thicken and starts lifting itself from the board, begin incorporating the remaining flour with the pastry scraper, by lifting the flour up and over the dough that’s beginning to form, cutting it into the dough. The dough may look “shaggy”.
If (like me you feel like your dough is too dry) add the smallest amount of water and see if that helps. If you add too much water, you can balance it out with flour.
Knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes until it looks smooth. Double wrap the dough in plastic wrap to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour before.
Assemble the Agnolotti. This is hard to describe so I found a really helpful video to show how it’s done.
Once you have all of your agnolotti you can keep these in a single layer in the fridge.
1.) How to Assemble Your Meal: First start work on your sage cream (if you haven’t separated the large and small leaves on the sage, now is a good time to do that). Blanch the sage leaves in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, cool in cold water, and drain again. Squeeze the leaves dry. Put them in the food processor and process it to chop them.
Make a Beurre Monte by taking a tablespoon of water and putting it in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to LOW and then slowly whisk in and melt pieces of butter until you have a full cup of it.
Mix in your Creme Fraiche to the Beurre Monte and add salt. DO NOT BOIL.
Take this mixture and slowly add it to the sage that you have in the food processor allowing it to be mixed in with the sage leaves. Once it resembles a sauce, strain out the large parts and you should be left with a slightly green sauce. Return the sauce to the saucepan.
In another pot, fill it with the Canola oil for deep frying. Let the oil heat to 275 degrees F. Fry the small sage leaves briefly, just until they are crisp (their color shouldn’t change) drain on paper towels.
In yet another pan, take the 2 tablespoons of butter and over medium heat cook to a nutty brown color; reduce the heat and keep warm.
In a large pot bring water to boil and add your agnolotti and boil for 4-5 minutes.
Drain the cooked agnolotti and mix them gently with the sage cream sauce over low heat. Divide the agnolotti among six serving dishes and drizzle with the browned butter. Scatter some prosciutto over each serving and garnish with fried sage leaves. YOU’RE ALL DONE!!!
Honestly, if you made it this far, you deserve a medal. You deserve that extra glass of wine! I hope you enjoyed the process and that you’re proud that you’ve leveled up your cooking experience a little! If you’d like to be notified of future posts please be sure to SIGN UP HERE. Also, be sure to check out my SHOP since I’m always putting fun stuff there. Lastly, if this post touched your heart or inspired you and you would like to Buy Me A Coffee, Thank you and I really appreciate it! Keep cooking and have a beautiful day! -Heather Astaneh