Chefs at Home: Lobster and Stinging Nettle Pansotti
WITH AN ENGROSSING COOKING PROJECT LIKE THIS, YOUR HOME KITCHEN CAN BE A GATEWAY TO ADVENTURE.
This dish is a bit time-consuming, but with all this free time most of us have found ourselves with, the effort will be worth it. Stinging nettles are just starting to pop up in New England, and they compliment the flavor of lobster very well. Infusing them into the pasta dough and the herb butter ensures you’ll taste their peppery and spinach-like flavor. Pansotti (translates to “pot-bellied”) is a pasta shape originally from Liguria. Often filled with cheese and herbs, we’re taking it and making our own version of it (sorry Italy!).
Sourcing note: I suggest contacting Tyler Akabane (@mushroomsformyfriends) for sourcing nettles for this recipe. He is an excellent local forager and a good friend. Take care to wear gloves while cleaning the nettles. They're called ‘stinging' for a reason. If you don't have gloves, rinsing them for 2 minutes under lots of cold water will neutralize them and make them safe to handle.
Special Cooking Equipment:
- Stand mixer with a pasta sheeter attachment
- Rolling pin (an empty wine bottle works too)
- Fluted pasta cutter (optional)
- Digital scale
- Gloves (for cleaning nettles)
BY CHEF ERIC FRIER
ERIC IS A BOSTON BASED CHEF WITH A PASSION FOR SEAFOOD. MOST RECENTLY, HE SERVED AS EXECUTIVE CHEF AT NEPTUNE OYSTER BAR. HE ENJOYS COMBINING INGREDIENTS FROM LOCAL FARMS WITH THE BOUNTY THAT IS NEW ENGLAND SEAFOOD.
FOLLOW CHEF ERIC ON INSTAGRAM
For the Pasta
- 3 1/4 cups '00' flour (all purpose flour is fine)
- 3 large eggs
For the Nettle Puree
- 1/2 pound cleaned nettles
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Ice water, for blanching
For the Lobster
- 1 pound claw/knuckle lobster meat, thawed and checked for shells
- Blanching water from earlier
- 1 lemon, sliced
For the Filling
- 2 tablespoons minced preserved lemon rind
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon whole milk ricotta
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley, divided
The Pasta Dough
Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and knead for 2 to 3 minutes until the dough starts to come together.
Transfer the mixture to a clean work surface and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Blanch nettles for 2 to 3 minutes until tender. Remove and shock in ice cold water until chilled. Reserve the blanching water for cooking the lobster in the following step.
Once chilled, squeeze as much water out of the nettles as possible and place in a blender. Add olive oil and a cup of ice water. Blend on high until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add small amounts of ice water until the blender can do its job.
Pass through a mesh strainer and season with salt if needed. Reserve 1/2 cup for the pasta dough. Freeze the rest in a sealed container. It's a great base for pesto or for the next time you make this dish!. It will last at least one month in the freezer.
Add the sliced lemon to the blanching water and bring to a boil.
Once the water is boiling, remove from the heat, add the lobster meat and gently cook for 2 minutes and 30 seconds uncovered.
Immediately remove the lobster and shock in ice water. Once cooled throughout, chop into 1/4" pieces and reserve in the fridge.
Mix all ingredients together with the cooked lobster meat and taste for seasoning. Reserve in the fridge for assembly.
Making the Pasta
Clear off a large workspace to be able to make the pasta. Cut off a small amount of pasta dough and keep the rest covered in plastic so it doesn't dry out.
Roll the dough out with a rolling pin first to ensure it will fit in the pasta sheeter. Use a small amount of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the sheeter. On the largest setting of the pasta roller, begin to sheet the dough working down one number setting at a time to make the sheet thinner and thinner.
Once you have rolled the sheet down one or two settings, fold the sheet into thirds, as if you were closing a tri-fold wallet. Rotate the sheet a quarter turn and, starting from the largest setting, roll the sheet again. This time, take the sheet down to just below the thinnest setting on your pasta sheeter. It should be very thin, almost see-through but not tearing apart. If you find your dough is tearing, repeat the folding again to add some strength to the dough.
Add a small amount of flour to the bottom side of the pasta sheet to keep it from sticking to the table. Using a ruler, cut the pasta into 3" squares. Save the excess, coat in semolina flour, and freeze.
I found that 1 tablespoon was an appropriate amount of filling, but you can use however much you like. Just try not to overfill. Place your portion of lobster filling into each square of pasta.
Working with one at a time, dip your finger into a small dish of cold water and rub the edges of the pasta. Then fold opposite corners so they connect and press firmly. Then press one corner and then the other to create a triangle. Place the pansotti on the table and use both hands to cup the filling into a round shape while pressing down to create a flat bottom.
You can stop here, or, with a fluted pasta cutter, trim the edges of the pansotti.
Transfer to a sheet tray lined with semolina flour. Repeat until you have a full tray, cover with a tea towel, and reserve in the fridge.
Bring a large pot of water up to the boil. Season lightly with salt (you’ll use some of this water to create the sauce).
Add the pansotti and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the pasta is floating. With a pair of scissors, cut off a corner of a pansotti and check to see that there is no more raw flour in the pasta. If there is, continue to cook until no raw flour remains.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a wide saucepan (large enough for the pansotti to be in one even layer) over medium heat, melt your butter and add a splash or two or pasta water. Swirl the pan to emulsify the butter into the pasta water. Add your cooked pansotti and toss gently to coat.
Finish with the rest of your chopped herbs and a good amount of lemon juice.
Serve immediately and top with shaved pecorino cheese and chopped nettles.