Cauliflower Agnolotti
Cauliflower Agnolotti

Jeanne Bécu, comtesse du Barry (and illegitimate daughter of Anne Bécu, possibly the daughter of a Friar) was Louis XV’s favorite piece of non-dyn/monastic ass.  Twas during his reign (1715-1774) that cauliflower grew in popularity and when the comtesse’s blonde noggin was lopped off in 1793, it probably looked like a bastard head of cauliflower falling into the basket, albeit likely flush with blood.  Whatever the case, du Barry would later signify a cauliflower garnish or base as with her eponymous veloutés and such.

Cauliflower was the primary ingredient, proving the filling, garnish and sauce.  Florets  were cut and reserved for the garnish.  The rest, including the stems were blanched until tender and puréed while hot with a minimal amount of milk to help make it smooth.  The filling consisted of a roux (roughly 20% the weight of the cauliflower purée) with minced onions cooked in the butter until tender, a chopped dried chili, Reggiano cheese and a trickle of lemon juice, essentially a traditional Mornay sauce accompaniment.  A few ounces of the initial purée were reserved for the sauce which was later augmented and thinned out with warm milk, grated Reggiano cheese, nutmeg, salt and a scant spoonful of the filling.

The egg based pasta dough is made with water, egg yolks, olive oil, salt and durum flour in precisely measured quantities so that it sticks to itself does not need further moisture for the flaps to seal shut, though not so much can be said for Alex Trebek’s mother.  Once the filling was deposited the dough was folded over, sealed shut, punched out and an indentation is made behind it to give the angolotti’s characteristic priest’s hat shape, or wrestler’s traumatic auricular hematoma.  Garnishing the ravioli were florets cooked tender in olive oil with lemon zest, sliced garlic, capers, a few lemon segments and blanched curly endive leaves.

Cauliflower Mornay filling is applied/
Cauliflower Mornay filling is applied.

Pasta is folded over.
Pasta is folded over.

Dough is pinched around the filling and punched out with a ring mold.
Dough is pinched around the filling and punched out with a ring mold.

The proceedure is repeated.
The proceedure is repeated.

Attention.  Passion.  Organization.  Uniformity.
Attention. Passion. Organization. Uniformity.

Post pasta posturing: The ravioli were pleasantly rich and the Mornay style filling complimented the cauliflower without overpowering it, notably the sweetness of the butter and saltiness of the Reggiano, though an older Reggiano would have been more pronounced and nutty, perhaps demanding hazelnuts or almonds for continuity.  The florets could have benefited from more caramelization to contrast from the blanched cauliflower and bring out more of the natural sugars.  The bitterness of the curly endive, saltiness of the capers and acidity of the lemon all worked to provide the necessary elements of delectable harmony or whatever.  The sauce coated the former elements with a hearty, albeit light dressing and allowed the ravioli to function as a vehicle for the other ingredients rather than merely hot noodles on a brisk fall evening (even if peak cauliflower season is in the spring).

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