serves: 6 servings
If you have beautifully ripe fresh plum tomatoes, peel and seed them for the sauce. If it isn't tomato season, opt for canned tomatoes, but include a few fresh plum tomatoes to give the sauce a taste of freshness.
I like the sweetness of jumbo lump crabmeat in these agnolotti, but if that is not available, substitute any type of fresh, sweet crabmeat, or even fresh sea or bay scallops cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
For the Filling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup fresh Italian parsley, minced
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 pound small shrimp (about 30), shelled, deveined and cut in half crosswise
1 pound jumbo lump crab meat
For the Sauce
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups peeled, seeded, crushed tomatoes, either ripe, frehs plum, or canned
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cups clam juice
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Prepare the filling ingredients: Beat the butter, parsley and black pepper together in a bowl until blended. Spoon the seasoned butter onto a square of plastic wrap and shape it into a rectangular loaf more or less the size of a stick of butter. Chill until completely firm, then cut into 1/4 x 1/4-inch cubes. While the butter is chilling, season shrimp pieces lightly with salt. Pick over the crab meat, removing any pieces of shell or cartilage, but leaving the pieces of crabmeat as large as possible. Refrigerate the butter cubes, shrimp and crabmeat while you fill the agnolotti.
Make the pasta dough and roll it into sheets by hand. Working with one sheet of dough at a time, cut out circles using a 3-inch round cutter. Brush the edges of the circles lightly with water. Place a piece of seasoned shrimp, a similar-sized piece of crab meat and a seasoned butter cube in the center of each circle.
To form the agnolotti, fold each circle in half, enclosing the filling and pinching the edges to seal securely. Holding the half-moon shape with the rounded side up, wrap it around the tip of your index finger and pinch the two ends together firmly. Arrange the finished agnolotti in a single layer on baking sheets lined with lightly floured kitchen towels and cover them with additional towels. Repeat with the remaining dough, seafood and butter. The agnolotti can be cooked immediately or refrigerated up to 4 hours. (To freeze the agnolotti, place them on the tray in the freezer until very firm to the touch, then transfer them to resealable plastic bags or airtight plastic containers and freeze for up to 2 months.)
To make the sauce, pass the tomatoes through a food mill fitted with the fine disc. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonreactive skillet over medium heat. Whack the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and add them to the pan. Cook, shaking the pan, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, stir in the crushed red pepper and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to simmering and cook until lightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Pour in the clam juice and cook an additional 15 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat.
Slip the agnolotti into the boiling water a few at a time, stirring gently as you add them. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until the edges are tender, about 4 minutes after the water returns to a boil.
If the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and agnolotti, fish the agnolotti out of the boiling water with a large wire skimmer and add them directly to the sauce in the skillet. If not, drain the agnolotti gently and return them to the pot. Pour in the sauce and bring to a boil, stirring gently to coat the agnolotti with sauce. Drizzle the remaining 5 tablespoons olive oil over the pasta and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Check the seasoning, adding salt if necessary and serve immediately.