In Good Hands
Frank Stitt shares handmade pasta technique and recipe from new cookbook, Bottega Favorita.
By Jan Walsh
Photography by Robin Colter
Bottega Restaurant is famous for its handmade pasta. Now you can make it too with a little help from Frank Stitt. "People think that homemade pasta is too much trouble. But you just have to try it a few times to learn."
Stitt and sous chefs John Rolen and Adam Grusin prepare Sweet Potato Ravioli with Sage Butter dish from Stitt's cookbook, Bottega Favorita.
Sweet Potato Ravioli with Sage Butter
“Serves 4 as an appetizer”
4 unpeeled sweet potatoes cut in half lengthwise
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons of fruity extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season cut surfaces of four sweet potatoes with salt and pepper. Drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil. Place cut side down on baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until just soft. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, scoop potato from skin and toss with remaining olive oil.
1 ¾ to 2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 extra-large eggs
Mix the flour and salt and mound on the work surface. Make a well in the center, like the crater of a volcano. Place eggs in the well. Using a fork, mix them together. Start gradually bringing in a little flour from the sides, and continue adding the flour bit by bit until the dough comes together and all the flour has been incorporated. Knead the dough, flouring the work surface as necessary, until it is smooth and elastic, five to seven minutes; it will be sticky. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.
Divide dough into four equal portions. Work with one piece at time, keeping the remaining dough covered with a towel or plastic wrap. Sprinkle a portion of dough with a light dusting of flour; then pass it through a pasta machine on the widest setting. Lay ribbon of dough on floured surface and fold it in half, so that the ends meet, and pass it through the same setting a second time. Adjust pasta machine down a setting and pass the sheet of pasta through. Fold it in half again. Pass it through the same setting a second time. Continue in the same fashion until you have passed the sheet of pasta through the thinnest possible setting twice. When the dough sheet becomes too long to handle, cut it into manageable lengths. Transfer each finished sheet to a lightly dusted work surface and keep covered with a slightly dampened towel to keep the pasta from drying out while you roll out the remaining dough.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
½ cup of ricotta
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pasta Dough, rolled out and cut into 24-inch strips
Cornmeal for dusting
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
4 large sage leaves, torn into pieces
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Cracked black pepper
Saba, for finishing, is optional
Combine sweet potato, ricotta, nutmeg, and salt and pepper in a bowl, mixing well. Refrigerate for one hour to firm up the filling. Remove filling from the refrigerator and spoon it into a pastry bag without a tip or a plastic bag with a one-half inch opening cut into one corner.
Fold one pasta sheet in half so that the two short ends meet, to mark the center. Then unfold the sheet so that it rests lengthwise in front of you. Working on one side of the crease, starting two inches from the end, arrange tablespoonfuls of the filling down the sheet at four-inch intervals. Fold the other side of (the) pasta back over so that the edges again line up, and press the dough around the mounds of filling to seal. Center a three-inch scallop cutter around each mound of filling and cut circles. Press the edges together firmly to seal, without losing the pretty “scallop.” Place the ravioli on a baking sheet with cornmeal and repeat with the remaining dough and filling. (You only need 12 ravioli for this recipe. Arrange the remaining ravioli on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until firm. Then transfer to heavy-duty freezer bags and freeze up to two months.)
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a rolling boil. Drop the 12 ravioli into the boiling water and cook for two to three minutes, until just tender. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When it is foamy, drop in the sage leaves and cook for one minute or until lightly toasted, but not brown. Lift the ravioli out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place in the sauté pan with the sage. Add a small splash of the pasta water and gently toss to coat the ravioli with butter.
Serve in four individual warm, pasta bowls, sprinkled with a little grated Parmigianino, cracked pepper. Stitt also adds Saba—an ancient grape preparation. “Saba is cooked down grape juice that is unfermented,” Stitt explains. Saba adds finishing touches of tartness, aroma and sweetness to this delicious dish.