Casonsei Pasta With Pancetta Brown Butter Sage Sauce

I don’t know about you guys but I had never heard of this pasta before. And it got me so excited because that’s exactly why I travel — to discover new food so that I can get inspired to get back in my kitchen and make it myself!  This year I’ve been spending a lot of time in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region as I’ve launched boutique group trips there, and each day I’m there, I seem to find a food that’s new to me.

On my latest trip, that food discovery was this pasta, which is known as casonsei (actually it’s also called casoncelli depending on where you are in the region of Lombardy). Here’s the thing: this pasta is undoubtedly from Lombardy and everyone you come across will recommend you try it; however, no two casonsei recipes are exactly the same.

Across Lombardy you’ll find the pasta with a slightly different filling — some stuffed with shredded pork, others with raisins and Grana Padano cheese; some with pears and amaretti cookies and others without — and even slightly different shapes — some more of a half-moon while others, like these, resemble a candy wrapper.

What is consistent is that casonsei are a stuffed pasta that hails from the Lombardy region and uses ingredients that are 100% Lombardy. From the local cheese, Grana Padano, and the butter sauce (this region of Italy uses butter more than olive oil!), to the local macaron-like cookies, amaretti, you’re eating the flavors of the region with every bite.

Yes, this recipe is an undertaking. It’s about 3 hours from start to finish, so it’s the kind of recipe you’ll want to take on as a weekend project. But do make this pasta because it has quickly become one of my favorites!

Speaking of cooking, I have a small galley kitchen so it’s key to have the KitchenAid® 3-Piece Pasta Roller & Cutter Set. This set is an attachment for the KitchenAid® Stand Mixer , which means one less appliance in my small kitchen! And because I don’t have to hand crank, I can use both hands to guide the pasta — particularly useful with a recipe like this that creates really long sheets of pasta.

By the way, this recipe makes a lot of pasta. But I say once you decide to make homemade pasta, you might as well go for it. I make a full recipe, let the shaped pasta dry for a few hours at room temperature, then cook what I want to eat and freeze the rest (by first freezing the pieces on an uncovered baking sheet then combining them all in an airtight container for storage). It can last up to 1 month in the freezer so if you want homemade pasta at your next dinner party or holiday feast, you can make them ahead of time, freeze them and then just cook them and the sauce the day of!

Oh, and if you don’t want to make the full recipe, that’s totally fine. The pasta dough is a workhorse dough that is perfect for shaped and filled pastas, or just toss your favorite store bought pasta in the uber-comforting smoky, sage-y brown butter sauce.

Here’s how to make it:

Start with the pasta dough (which you could make up to a month in advance and store in the freezer, by the way). Combine the flours and salt in a KitchenAid® 14-cup Food Processor and process on high until the flours are well mixed.

With the food processor running, pour in the beaten eggs and run until the dough comes together into a ball.

As soon as it comes together in a ball, stop the food processor.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it just a few minutes until it comes together as a smooth ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set it aside to rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out.

Meanwhile, start on the filling. Combine the meats in a KitchenAid® 10-inch Hard Anodized Nonstick Pan and cook over medium high heat, breaking up the meat as you stir it, until the meat is cooked. Set it aside to cool briefly before placing it in the food processor.

Once the meat is cool enough to handle, place it in the bowl of a KitchenAid® 14-Cup Food Processor and add in all the remaining filling ingredients. Run the food processor on high until the mixture is well-combined and all the ingredients are the same size.

Fit the KitchenAid® 3-Piece Pasta Roller onto the KitchenAid® Stand Mixer. Cut dough into six pieces (they need to fit in the Pasta Roller). Press each piece into a rectangle shape.

Pull the roller adjustment knob straight out and turn to setting 1. Release the knob, making certain the pin on the roller housing engages the opening on the back of the adjustment knob, allowing the knob to fit flush against the roller housing.

Turn stand mixer to speed 2. Feed flattened, lightly floured dough into rollers to knead. Fold dough in thirds, flatten, lightly flour, and roll again. Repeat until dough is smooth and pliable and covers the width of the roller. Lightly dust pasta with flour while rolling and cutting to aid in drying and separation.

Feed dough through rollers to further flatten the sheet of dough. Change the roller to setting 3, and repeat the rolling process once on each setting. Continue to increase roller setting until you reach setting 8. After setting 2, do not fold the dough anymore. Cut dough sheets as needed to make it easier to work.

Once all dough is rolled to setting 8, trim all the pasta sheets into 4-inch by 3-inch rectangles, lightly flouring as you go and discarding the scraps.

When you have all the dough trimmed, arrange a few pasta rectangles on a lightly floured work surface and brush off any excess flour. Add rounded 1/4 teaspoon of the filling to the center of one of the shorter ends of the dough. With a pastry brush dipped in water, brush a little water on the edges of the pasta.

Starting at the end with the filling, roll the pasta into a cylinder. Then press down on either side of the pasta filling to seal the pasta.

Pinch the sides so you make the pasta into the shape of a candy wrapper.

Place filled pasta on a lightly floured cutting board or a lightly floured rimmed baking sheet and set aside while you repeat with all the remaining dough. Let pasta shapes dry at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before using.

Meanwhile, start the sauce. Place the pancetta in the KitchenAid® 3.3 Quart Hard Anodized Nonstick Pan and cook on medium-high heat until the pancetta is crisp and browned. Remove pancetta from the pan and place on a paper-towel lined baking sheet.

Discard all but 2 tablespoons of drippings and return the pan to the stove over medium high heat. Carefully, add sage leaves to the pan and cook until crisp, just 1 to 2 minutes. Remove sage from the pan and place on a paper-towel lined baking sheet.

Add butter to dripping in the pan, return to the stove over medium heat, and cook until butter turns nut-brown and smells toasty, and then turn heat to a minimum.

When the pasta is just about done, scoop out 2 cups of the cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta and add it to the butter in the pan. Add 1 1/2 cups of the water, and stir; the mixture will be loose and a little soupy. Add the lemon juice and cook for about 30 seconds, or until some of the water is absorbed and the pasta is perfectly done.

Add grated cheese to the sauce and stir well; the sauce will become creamy. Thin it with a little more water, as needed – you want each pasta piece coated but for the sauce to not be soupy or gummy. Season well with salt, and serve immediately, garnished with pancetta and sage and passing more cheese at the table if you like.

Casonsei Pasta With Pancetta Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Makes 8-12 servings

INGREDIENTS

For The Pasta:
2 1/2 cups Type “00” flour
1 cup semolina flour plus more for rolling and shaping dough
6 large eggs, beaten
Pinch of kosher salt

For The Filling:
1/2 pound sweet Italian pork sausage meat, crumbled
1/2 pound ground turkey meat
1 1/2 cups finely grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
6 amaretti cookies
1 firm-ripe pear, small dice
Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of ground nutmeg

For The Sauce:
4 ounces pancetta, cubed
60 small or medium sage leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups finely grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Juice of 1 lemon

DIRECTIONS

For The Pasta:
Combine the flours and a pinch of salt in a KitchenAid® 14-cup Food Processor fit with an “S” blade and run on high until the flours are well combined. With the food processor running, pour in the eggs (make sure they’re well beaten) and run until the dough comes together into a ball.

Turn the pasta dough onto a floured surface and knead it briefly until it comes together as a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes before using. (Pasta can be made to this step up to 1 day ahead. Store wrapped in plastic, placed in a resealable plastic bag, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.)

For The Filling:
Combine the meats in a KitchenAid® 10-inch Hard Anodized Nonstick Pan over medium-high heat and cook, breaking up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon, until the meat is cooked through. Set aside to cool briefly. (Meat can be cooked up to 2 days ahead. Store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.)

For Pasta Assembly:
Fit the KitchenAid® 3-Piece Pasta Roller onto the KitchenAid® Stand Mixer. Cut dough into six pieces (they need to fit in the Pasta Roller). Press each piece into a rectangle shape.

Pull the roller adjustment knob straight out and turn to setting 1. Release the knob, making certain the pin on the roller housing engages the opening on the back of the adjustment knob, allowing the knob to fit flush against the roller housing.

Turn stand mixer to speed 2. Feed flattened, lightly floured dough into rollers to knead. Fold dough in thirds, flatten, lightly flour, and roll again. Repeat until dough is smooth and pliable and covers the width of the roller. Lightly dust pasta with flour while rolling and cutting to aid in drying and separation.

Feed dough through rollers to further flatten the sheet of dough. Change the roller to setting 3, and repeat the rolling process. Continue to increase roller setting until you reach setting 8. Do not fold the dough during this step. Cut dough as needed to make it wieldy.

Once all dough is rolled to setting 8, trim all the dough into 4-inch by 3-inch rectangles, lightly flouring as you go and discarding the scraps. When you have all the dough trimmed, arrange a few pasta rectangles on a lightly floured work surface and brush off any excess flour.

Add rounded 1/4 teaspoon of the filling to the center of one of the shorter ends of the dough. With a pastry brush dipped in water, brush a little water on the edges of the pasta. Starting at the end with the filling, roll the pasta into a cylinder. Then press down on either side of the pasta filling to seal the pasta. Pinch the sides so you make the pasta into the shape of a candy wrapper.

Place filled pasta on a lightly floured cutting board or a lightly floured rimmed baking sheet and set aside while you repeat with all the remaining dough. Let pasta shapes dry at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using. (Pasta can be made up to 1 month ahead of time. Freeze pasta on a baking sheet and once fully frozen, store frozen in an airtight container.)

For The Sauce:
Meanwhile, place pancetta in the KitchenAid® 3.3 Quart Hard Anodized Nonstick Pan and cook on medium-high heat until the pancetta is crisp and browned. Remove pancetta from the pan and place on a paper-towel lined baking sheet. (Pancetta can be crisped up to 8 hours ahead of time. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.)

Discard all but 2 tablespoons fat drippings and return the pan to the stove over medium high heat. Add sage leaves to the pan and cook until crisp. Remove pancetta from the pan and place on a paper-towel lined baking sheet. (Sage can be crisped up to 1 day ahead of time. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.)

Add butter to dripping in the pan, return to the stove over medium heat, and cook until butter turns nut-brown and smells toasty then turn heat to a minimum. (Butter can be browned up to 8 hours ahead of time. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.)

When the pasta is just about done, reserve 2 cups of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and add it to the butter in the pan along with 1 1/2 cups of the water and the lemon juice. Cook until some of the water is absorbed and the pasta is perfectly al dente.

Remove from heat, and stir in cheese — the sauce should become creamy, thin it with a little more water, as needed. Season well with salt, and serve immediately garnished with pancetta and sage and passing additional grated cheese at the table.

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*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*

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