2½ tbspextra-virgin olive oil1small onion, diced1garlic clove, finely chopped500 gmgoat shoulder, cut into 2cm diceTo taste:fine sea saltTo taste:finely ground black pepper700 mlgood-quality tomato passata3thyme sprigs1small bay leafWateror beef stock, if needed during braiseTo serve:freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorinoTo serve:fresh crusty breadStinging nettle fresh egg pasta dough135 gmstinging nettle leaves (see note)330 gmplain flour, plus extra, for kneading70 gmfine semolina½ tspfine sea salt4free-range or organic eggs (59gm each)
For stinging nettle fresh egg pasta dough, prepare the stinging nettle leaves by blanching them in boiling water for 2 minutes, then refresh in iced water. Strain the stinging nettles and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. This can be achieved by wringing out the nettles in a clean tea towel. Place the nettles into a mortar and, using a pestle, work it until it is finely ground. It can also be blended in a food processor, but if overworked it will turn a fluorescent green. Combine the flour, semolina and sea salt and place on a work surface or large wooden board. The flour should form a peaked mound. With your hand, make a hole in the top of the mound so that it resembles a volcano. This hole needs to be big enough to house the eggs. Break the eggs into the hole and add the prepared nettles. With your hand or with a fork, gently beat the eggs, then slowly incorporate the flour into the egg mixture. I do this by moving my hand in a circular motion, slowly incorporating the flour from the inside wall of the mound. Don’t worry if the dough looks like a mess. This is normal. Once fully combined, knead a little more flour into the dough if it feels a little wet and sticky. Set the dough aside and clean the work space. Dust some fresh flour onto the work surface and continue kneading the dough for another 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Next, roll the pasta to the desired thickness and cut into 6mm-wide strips for tagliatelle.
Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the diced onion, garlic and goat meat. Season with the sea salt and black pepper and sauté until all are nicely browned. Add the tomato passata, thyme and bay leaf and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 2-3 hours or until the goat meat has become fall-apart tender. Add a little water or stock to the sauce throughout the cooking process if it is becoming too reduced. Once cooked, simply set aside.
Bring abundant salted water to the boil and cook the pasta. With fresh egg pasta, the eating experience is different from dried pasta and the texture is much softer and not really al dente. Strain the pasta and stir through the sauce. Serve with lots of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino and fresh crusty bread.
Note You will need about 450gm of nettles to yield 135gm of leaves. It is a good idea to use rubber gloves to pick the leaves from the stems. This recipe can also be made with any green leafy vegetable – spinach, cavolo nero, cime di rapa, chicory et cetera. Be very careful to adequately clean the stinging nettles or any alternative green leafy vegetable to ensure no dirt makes its way into the dough.
This recipe is from Pasta Artigiana by Nino Zoccali, published by Murdoch Books, $49.99, hbk. It has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.
This recipe is from the August 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.