Theo Schoenegger

Sinatra chef rolls out a pasta recipe that can be done by lesser hands

Steve Wynn hired Theo Schoenegger to be his chef at Encore’s Sinatra because of his kitchen skills, but his people skills are equally impressive. Fluent in Italian, German and English, the good-natured Theo (pronounced tay-o) has been in the kitchen since he was a boy in Italy’s Trentino Alto Adige, where his mother ran a restaurant. Since then, the chef has built quite a résumé, including stints at Munich’s three-Michelin-star Aubergine and Tantris, and later at Joachim Splichal’s Patina in Los Angeles, where he worked as executive chef. Schoenegger is a good guy to learn from, and watching him make this agnolotti dish was especially instructive. For one thing, the task is easier than you might think. Secondly, it’s worth it: Nothing matches the spring and elasticity of fresh pasta. Try it and see.

Pasta dough

  • 1 pound 00 flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients in a kitchen or mixing bowl, mix at low speed to a smooth consistency. Set aside and rest for two hours.

The filling

  • 2 cups bufala ricotta
  • ½ cup mascarpone
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ cup grated Reggiano-Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chive
  • ½ tablespoon chopped chervil
  • 1 tablespoon melted truffle butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place ricotta, mascarpone, eggs and Reggiano-Parmesan in a food processor; blend until smooth and add remaining ingredients. Place in a pastry or piping bag.

Ingredients for truffle sauce

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 ounces parmigiano
  • Parmesan rind
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepot reduce white wine by half. Add chicken stock and the rind; reduce by half again. Strain and blend in butter, salt and pepper.

Take the dough and roll out a long, rectangular sheet, about three inches across. Cut the sides with a pastry wheel to make the sheets straight down the edges.

Carefully squeeze filling onto a pasta sheet in a long tube. Then fold the dough neatly over, pressing lightly with your index finger to seal the edge. Press out any pockets of air.

To shape: Place thumb and forefinger together as if pinching something and, leaving about 1 inch of space between your hands and holding your fingers vertically, pinch the filling in 1-inch increments, making about ¾ inch of “pinched” area between each pocket of filling.

Run a sharp knife or crimped pastry wheel along the bottom edge of the folded-over dough, separating the strip of filled pockets from the remainder of the sheet. This will yield around four dozen squares with crimped edges, rather like small ravioli, if you will.

Drop them into rapidly boiling water and cook to desired texture. Transfer to a sauté pan, reduce sauce mixture and coat pasta, adding one tablespoon of freshly cut chives. Finish with grated Parmesan cheese and shaved winter or summer truffles.

You can get the cheese, truffle butter and mascarpone at a gourmet food store or at a Whole Foods Market. If winter truffles are no longer available, summer truffles will be. Fresh truffles are prohibitively costly for some of us, so using more truffle butter instead will dazzle your guests without the expense.

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