Make Ahead

Melchiore’s Culingioni

April  6, 2011
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Now that’s a mouthful already. I learned this dish from a Sardegnan cook who happened to be working in Umbria at a time when some friends of mine rented a large house out in the wilds of nowhere. We hired him on to prepare a huge dinner but also to offer some instruction. I, as the only Italian speaker/translator in the household, got to work with him elbow to elbow and picked up some cool ideas along the way. These dumplings are very traditional in Sardegna and the closures on them almost look like they’ve been braided if you can do them right. Melchiore told me that mine were “troppo cinese”; too Chinese, and also that my hands were “nervoso”. In fact these little thingies have a lot in common with dim sum apart from the filling. Anyway, you’ll have to picture it because my closings don’t come close to the elegant look that Melchiore’s had. There is a push and pull technique that I still don’t have right. For the pasta I use goose eggs to make the dough but you don’t have to do that, a slight shift in ratio. Everything else is simple. - Culingioni —pierino

Test Kitchen Notes

From the simplest of ingredients comes this AMAZING recipe that brings to light the adage, the sum is greater than its parts. The combination of mint, ricotta and riced potatoes makes a flavorful filling that is brought out by the pecorino and butter at the end, with another sprinkling of mint as an elegant echo. - wssmom —wssmom

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 goose egg or 2 hen’s eggs
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • Butter
  • Pecorino sardo to grate (or substitute pecorino romano)*
  1. For the dumpling filling boil the potatoes until very fork tender. Cut them in halves and put through a ricer
  2. Into the riced potatoes mix in the ricotta and the mint which you’ve chopped while your mind was elsewhere.
  3. Look for the melon baller you stuck in a drawer somewhere
  4. Prepare your pasta by the standard technique; make a well with the flour, add the eggs and slowly work them in (don’t do an Emeril or your well will break). Using your hands and a pastry scraper finish the dough and roll into a ball. Wrap that in cling wrap and let it rest for about thirty minutes.
  5. Back to old school pasta making; cut off an “egg “ of dough---that being the size---and work it through the rollers of your pasta maker, working from the widest setting to ulitimately the second to last setting.
  6. Roll the pasta into sheets and using a round cutter or an old tuna can cut out round shapes from the sheets. You found the melon baller, right? Scoop a ball of filling into each circle of dough. Using only your finger and cold running water run that finger around the edge of the pasta circles. Fold into a half moon shape and then push and pull to crimp the edge closed. Even if it’s not as tightly braided as Melchiore’s it will still be okay.
  7. Melchiore’s alternate “Ferrari” technique is to lay the filling out on the pasta sheets, fold them over and then run a fluted pasta wheel around them. Not as pretty but it still works.
  8. Heat your oven to 350F Bring a big pot of water to a boil, salt it and then add the dumplings. Remove them when they float to the top and drain.
  9. To finish lay the dumplings out on an ovenproof tray (pyrex) and top with a few bits of butter and freshly grated pecorino. Stick that in the oven for 2 minutes. Remove from oven, spank it with some more chopped mint and serve your hungry guests.
  10. *Pecorino sardo, a sheep's milk cheese is preferred but, pecorino romano is more easy to find so use that if you need to.
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Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.

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