#18: wine x food pair request | GRUNER VELTLINER X WINTER TORTELLINI 🍝
When an Austrian and Italian gem collide, it’s a delicious combination. If you fancy a longer cooking project, this one is a perfect one to get the skills in.
Let’s jump into Austrian wine, shall we? It is a thing, and it’s bloody divine, let me tell you. This one is a request from a reader, wondering what would go well with an Austrian white wine. Any wines you want me to try out a recipe for? DMs are open folks, or pop a comment on what you find tricky to get right.
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Gruner Veltliner is one of my favourite whites and to go with it, my favourite food staple - pasta. I’m really happy to (finally) match these two in my kitchen, and I hope it warms many a home as we wait for the brighter weather to come.
The Wine 🍷
Gruner Veltliner is a native grape to Austria, and has been crawling up the ranks with wine critics and boutique restaurants slowly but surely. The Wachau region north of Vienna is where this grape really does its best, where there is a cooler climate compared to many of the European wine regions.
Gruner isn’t necessarily counted as an aromatic grape like Riesling, but it comes with bundles of flavour. It’s typically citrusy, a little salty in some cases and has white pepper on the nose for good quality. A little like Pinot Grigio’s arty, more interesting yet reliable sibling. Deliciously zingy, an older wine (let’s say about 4 years old plus) will start to get a little more marmaladesque as it builds character.
My pick: Smetana, Newcomer Wine, £23. Newcomer is a great wine bar in Dalston that specialises in Central European wine with a particularly good selection from Austria. While GV is generally crisp, this one has been allowed to mellow out using a process called malolactic fermentation. Put simply as that’s a big word: while it stays fruity, it’s got a little butter/yoghurty feel to it which mellows it out slightly. Unusual for this style, this is a good way to get into this grape.
The Grub 🍟
I’ve made an earthy, homely filling here for tortellini from some mushrooms and Jerusalem artichoke that I managed to grab at Borough Market. Jerusalem artichoke has such a delicious earthy flavour in small quantities I find it hard to resist on a menu - and with mushrooms, it further deepens the umami.
I’ve made tortellini with my trusty pasta machine (notions, I know) but you can still get really good results from homemade pasta by rolling it out thinly with plenty of semolina to dust and make sure it doesn’t stick to the surface. If you’re looking to cut the faff of needing to roll each individual tortellino, you can also be artsy and serve sheets of pasta as an open ravioli. It may seem more Masterchef or Michelin Star, but actually requires a lot less time to be impressive.
Any natives from Emilia-Romagna may shoot me for saying so, but I always find it difficult to know what to make stuffed pasta with if you’re feeling adventurous. But considering its your kitchen, you can get really creative with what goes in! Typically adding combinations that you like for foods are going to go well as well, it’s fairly hard to go wrong with pasta.
Why they go well together 🧪
Gruner gives a crisp, fresh wine that will go well to cut through the richer, earthier flavours of this combination. You don’t want to pair a richer stuffed pasta with anything too oily or flabby like you’d get in some aromatic or Italian wine grape varieties, as it might just make the whole thing seem a bit duller than it really is.
GV will be sure to add zing, hug the bigger flavours and really make these work well together. As I deluded before, it’s giving what you’d hope for in a Pinot Grigio, the latter of which can be tricky to ensure you’re getting at a good quality point. Austria’s wines are generally of decent quality based on how young the market is, and the demand that’s impending for their off the cuff wines.
The recipe 🧑🍳
This is going to serve two to three nicely as a main, or you could get a starter out of it with an extra box of leftovers. Feel free to tweak the recipe to make more - tortellini freezes really well and just needs a teeny bit more cooking time than fresh, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for batch cooking options that feel a real treat! You’ll need two pots, and ideally a pasta machine - but a rolling pin is all you need really if that’s not available.
What you need:
For the pasta:
300g pasta flour (Dove’s farm do one that’s 00 + semolina in one, or plain white flour will do if you’re stuck) with some additional semolina or flour for dusting
3 good quality eggs
Half teaspoon of salt
For the filling:
100g mushrooms, finely chopped
50g Jerusalem artichoke, finely chopped
25g hazelnuts, lightly toasted and finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
A handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
100g ricotta cheese
15g good quality parmesan cheese, freshly grated (and more to serve with)
For the butter to garnish:
About 30g stick butter
A few sage, oregano or basil leaves
What you gotta do:
PASTA PREP 🍝 (ETA 15 min, with 25 min cool time)
In a food processor or on a clean counter, combine the flour and salt. Add two eggs and mix together until you have a hard clump of dough. The egg can take a while to integrate into the mixture, so give it time before adding the third - but if it’s starting to feel too dusty to combine, add the other egg and mix well.
If you’ve done it right, you should have a hard, non-sticky lump of dough that should be quite tough to try and stretch, but not sticking to the surface or your fingers at all. If you’ve still got some things to incorporate in, you can add in a little cold water here. If it’s too sticky or moist (sorry for making those averse to that word cringe), pop in a little more flour.
Once you’ve got that down, unfortunately you’re going to have to knead, quite a bit. You’ll need to knead for about 5-10 minutes, pushing the palm of your wrist to stretch the other part of the dough before folding over and repeating. Don’t feel too soft on the stuff - you should be showing that dough who is boss, and you should start to feel the dough stretch without bouncing back. There also should be far less creases in the dough ball itself - and don’t worry if it’s not perfectly smooth. The rolling step will stretch everything out that needs to be.
Divide up the mixture into four balls, pop into a bowl and cover with cling film. Pop it back in the fridge, and leave it to rest for between 20 minutes and 2 hours. The cling film or at least a moist tea towel is the most important step here, as otherwise it will dry the mix out.
FILLING PREP 🍝 (ETA 15 min)
Toast the nuts in a dry pan on a medium heat, and stir with a wooden spoon until they’re starting to become fragrant and get a nice golden glow. Pop in a bowl and allow the pan to cool a little, before you add the oil to the pan and bring it up to a high heat.
Add the mushroom and artichoke when the oil has heated, and allow them to sauté gently for about 10-15 minutes until the pieces are soft. Ensure that they’re seasoned well. Take off the heat, move to a mixing bowl where you can add in the hazelnuts, parsley, garlic, Parmesan and ricotta. Season to taste and allow to cool.
SHAPING ▲ (Give yourself at least an hour here, particularly if it’s your first go or don’t have a sous chef!)
Once you’ve got the pasta out of the fridge, start to massage it down gently to get ready for rolling or running through the pasta machine. Make sure the ball you’re working with is smooth but dry to touch, and add a pinch of semolina if needed to dust it. Start rolling the pasta through the machine at the widest setting, running it through two to three times before bringing it down a notch each time until you’ve gone down about 6 settings (or whatever thinness your pasta machine advises). If you’re on a rolling pin, keep rolling out, rotating and dusting like you would a pastry until you have the thinnest dough you can work with without breaking or sticking - it’s generally 4-6 mm if you have that eye.
Repeat until all of your pasta has been brought down to size. Make sure you’ve gently dusted it with a bit of semolina/flour to stop it from sticking, and that it’s not stacked in anyway. Might need to get creative and draw some out on countertops, coffee tables or clothes horses at this stage.
Time to fill the pasta - which is so much more simple than it seems. Make sure you’ve got a little cup or ramekin of water close by for this step. Divide the pasta into roughly 5 cm x 5 cm squares with a dinner knife or pastry cutter. Dollop about a teaspoon of the filling into the middle, and fold diagonally opposite corners together to make a triangle or samosa shape. Press to make sure that the newly formed edges are totally sealed.
Pop one index finger over the centre of the filling of your new samosa shape, and curl the bottom corner towards you to make a loop shape. Press the corners together, and you have your tortellini shape! (There’s a few theories on how to seal or shape tortellino, but this is the one that I was taught and find the handiest).
You’re ready to go to cook them: dust the stuffed pasta with a bit of semolina, and allow any leftover pasta to dry on a wire rack or clothes horse. It will keep for about a week if you want to make anything else with it!
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER ✨
To cook the pasta, bring a large saucepan to boil with salted water (it should taste like the sea, to give you an idea of how much to chuck in). When you have a rolling boil, bob some of the tortellini in slowly using a slotted spoon and leave to cook for 2-3 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready to go when they float to the top, even if they look a teeny bit anaemic.
Take out with a slotted spoon, and pop into a colander to allow to further drain. To get the butter to serve ready to go, melt on a medium heat pan and allow to slowly heat until the small brown particles start to form on the butter. Add the herb leaves to the butter, and allow to infuse on a low heat while they infuse and crisp up.
To serve, pop the tortellini in a pasta bowl or plate and top with the butter, some herbs to garnish and parmesan. Buon appetito!
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