VENU’S JEWEL CASE by Marcella Hazan

di battellani

 

Questo è un brano, tratto dal famoso libro scritto da Marcella Hazan, “the essentials of classic italian cooking”.

essential

Ricordo con piacere i racconti di mio nonno dedicati alla sua amica Marcella e di come ebbero modo di conoscersi ed instaurare un rapporto con Marcella che aprì  una scuola di cucina a Bologna e mio nonno che portò la cucina Bolognese per un mese a New york nel famoso ristorante Four Season.

amm

marcella hazan cantunzein

Joseph (Seppi) Renggli  (Four Season executive) chef e Marcella Hazan & Claudio Maccaferri (Cantunzein chef)

Propongo volentieri la sua versione, dello scrigno di venere, in sua memoria.

Pasta wrapper filled with spinach fettucine, porcini msuchrooms and ham

Before the student riots of the late 1970s demolisched it, the Cantunzein, in Bologma, was probably the greatest pasta restaurant that has ever existed. Among the 30 or 40 pastas it served, the most sublime was called  scrigno di venere, Venu’s jewel case. The “case” was formed by a small handkerchief-sized wrapper of yellow pasta pulled around a collection of edible “jewel”: green fettucine, ham, wild muschrooms, truffles.

The reciepe, while not particularly troublesome from the point of view of technique, requieres a substantial amount of organisation to assemble. Reading it through carefully first will help you put it togheret smoothly.

Severs 6

For the fettuccine

Homemade green pasta dough, using 2 larghe eggs, 100 g/ 3 ½ oz frozen leaf spinach or 170g/6 oz fresh spinach, salt and approximately 170g/6 oz plain unbleached flour

TO SAUCE THE FETTUCINE

45 g/1 ½ oz butter

2 tablespoons chopped shallots or onion

50g/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms reconstituted

The filtered water from the mushroom soak

85g/3 oz unsmoked, boiled ham cu tinto 6.mm/1/4-in strips

350 ml/8 fl oz whipping cream

6 tablespoons frehsly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

15 g ½ oz (or more if affordable)

Fresh or tinned white truffle, optional

THE PASTA WRAPPERS

Homemade yellow pasta dough made, using 3 large eggs and approximately 200 g/ 7 oz plain unbleached flour

THE BECHAMEL SAUCE

Bèchamel sauce prepared using 700 ml/ 1 ¼ pints milk, 86 g/3 oz butter, 4 ½ tablespoons flour and ¼ teaspoon salt 6 gratin dishes, prerably earthenware, about 11 cm/4 ½ in diameter butter for greasin the dishes wooden cocktail sticks

  1. Make green pasta dough either by machine. Cut in into fettucine, either using the wide-grooved cutters of the pasta machine, or cutting it by hand. Spread the fettucine loosely on a counter lined with clean, dry tea towels.
  2. Put 45 g/1 ½ oz of butter in a saucepan or small sauté pan together with the chopped onion or shallot, turn the heat to medium, and sauté the onion or shall untili t becomes coloured a pale gold, Add the reconstituted dried mushrooms and the filtered water from thei soak. Cook at a simmer untile all the mushroom liquid has evaporated.
  3. Add the ham, cook half a minute or so, stirring once or twice to coat it well, then add the cream. Cook until the cream has thickened somewhat, then turn the heat off and set the pan aside.
  4. Prepare the yellow pasta dough by machine, or by hand, rolling it out as thin as possible by either method.
  5. If making pasta by machine you must join all the pasta strips to make a single large shhet. Lightly moisten the edge of one strp with water, thne place edge od another strip over it, overlapping it by very little, about 3 mm(1/8 in. Run you thumb along rhe whole lenght of the edge, pressing down hard on the two edges to bond them together. Smoth the bumps out with a pass or two of a rolling pin. Repeat the operation wiht anothe pasta strip, continuing untill alla the dhough has benn joined to form a single shhet.

IF MAKING PASTA BY HAND when you have rolled out a single thin sheet of pasta proceed to the next step.

  1. Lay the sheet of dough flat on a counter lined with dry tea towels and let it dry for about 10 minutes.
  2. To make the wrappers, you must cut the pasta into discs 20 cm/8 in in diameter. Look for a pot cover of that size, or a plate, or use a compass to trace 6 20-cm /8-in discs on the pasta dough. Detach the discs from the pasta sheet, spreading them on the tea towels. (the leftover pasta can be cut and dried to cook in soup on another occasion.)
  3. Prepare the bèchamel sauce, making it rather thim, the consistency of sour cream. When done, keep it warm in the upper half of a double-boiler, with the heat turned to very low. Stiri t just before using.
  4. Place a bowl of cold water near the stove and bring 4 litres/7 pints of water to the boil in a soup pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and, as the water resumes boiling, drop in 2 of the pasta discs. When they have cooked for no more than hald a minute, retrieve thme with a slotterd spoon, dip them in the bowl of cold water, then rinse them under cold running water, wringing thme gently, and spread them out flat on the tea towel. Repeat the operation until you have done all 6 pasta discs.
  5. Return the mushroom and ham sauce to a low heat and stir once or twice while you are retheating it. If using tinned truffles, add the juice from the tin to the sauce.
  6. Add more water to the soup pot to replenish wath has boile away, and when the water comes to a lively boil, drop in the green fettucine. Drain the pasta when slightly underdone, a little firmer than al dente. Toss it immediately with the ham and mushroom sauce. Add the grated parmesan and tossa gain. If using truffle, slice it very thinly over the pasta; if you don’t have a truffle slicer, use a swivelling-blad peeler or a mandolin. Divide the gettucine into 6 equal portion, keeping to one side 6 individual strands.
  7. Preheat the ovem to 230°C/450°F/gas 8.
  8. Thickly smear the bottom of the gratin pans with buter. Spread some bèchamel sauce on a large platter. Place one of the pasta discs over the bèchamel, rotating it to coat all its underside. Thinly spread a little more béchamel on its top side. Place the disc in a gratin pan, centring it and letting its edges hang over the sides. Put one of the 6 portions of fettucine in the centre of the discs, making sure it has its share of sauce. Keep the fettucine loose, don’t tamp them down. Mix in a little béchamel. Pick up the edges of the discs and fold them towards the centre with a spiral movement, thus sealing the pasta wrapper. Fasten the folds at the top with a cocktail stick, the wrap one of the fettucine strands you had set aside around the cocktail stick. Repeat the entrire procedure until you have filled and sealed all6 wrappers.
  9. Place the gratin dishes on the uppermost shelf of the preheatd oven. Bake until a light browm crust forms on edge of the wrapper’s folds, about 8 minutes. Do not bake longer than 10 minutes.
  10. Return the mushroom and ham sauce to a low heat and stir once or twice while you are retheating it. If using tinned truffles, add the juice from the tin to the sauce.
  11. Add more water to the soup pot to replenish wath has boile away, and when the water comes to a lively boil, drop in the green fettucine. Drain the pasta when slightly underdone, a little firmer than al dente. Toss it immediately with the ham and mushroom sauce. Add the grated parmesan and tossa gain. If using truffle, slice it very thinly over the pasta; if you don’t have a truffle slicer, use a swivelling-blad peeler or a mandolin. Divide the gettucine into 6 equal portion, keeping to one side 6 individual strands.
  12. Preheat the ovem to 230°C/450°F/gas 8.
  13. Thickly smear the bottom of the gratin pans with buter. Spread some bèchamel sauce on a large platter. Place one of the pasta discs over the bèchamel, rotating it to coat all its underside. Thinly spread a little more béchamel on its top side. Place the disc in a gratin pan, centring it and letting its edges hang over the sides. Put one of the 6 portions of fettucine in the centre of the discs, making sure it has its share of sauce. Keep the fettucine loose, don’t tamp them down. Mix in a little béchamel. Pick up the edges of the discs and fold them towards the centre with a spiral movement, thus sealing the pasta wrapper. Fasten the folds at the top with a cocktail stick, the wrap one of the fettucine strands you had set aside around the cocktail stick. Repeat the entrire procedure until you have filled and sealed all 6 wrappers.

Venu's jewel

Venu's jewel 2

Venu's jewel 3

  1. Place the gratin dishes on the uppermost shelf of the preheatd oven. Bake until a light browm crust forms on edge of the wrapper’s folds, about 8 minutes. Do not bake longer than 10 minutes.
  2. Transfer each wrapper from gratin dish to a soup plate, lifting carefully with 2 metal spatulas. Remove the cocktail stick without dislodging the single stand of fettuccine. Allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

AHEAD OF TIME NOTE you can preapre the wrappers several hours in advance to the end of step 13. The can be done in the morning for the evening, but bot overnight, and they are not to be refrigerated.

Copyright Marcella Hazan