THE CHEF: MELISSA RODRIGUEZ
Her restaurants: Mel’s, in New York City; Al Coro and Discolo, both opening soon, also in Manhattan
What she is known for: Italian cuisine with finesse. Technical mastery at the service of inviting flavor combinations.
SIX WEEKS AGO, Melissa Rodriguez opened her restaurant Mel’s, in Manhattan. Centered around a wood-burning oven, the intimate space is very different from the sprawling next door, with sister restaurant Al Coro, set to open in a few months. “I’m thin,” said Mrs. Rodriguez.
A dish she developed for Al Coro inspired this recipe, her first for Slow Food Fast: tender triangular packets of fresh pasta with a filling of potato, fontina and mascarpone, finished with nutty browned butter and grated Parmesan cheese.
While Ms. Rodriguez makes her pasta from scratch, here she streamlines things for the home cook and calls for store-bought sheets of fresh lasagna. Rice or grate the boiled potatoes while they are still warm. “You don’t want whole potato chunks,” Mrs. Rodriguez said. “The feeling must be wonderful when you bite into it.” Just imagine what a pleasure that will be on a night when you too are stretched.
—Kitty Greenwald is a chef, food writer and the co-author of ‘Slow Fires’ (Clarkson Potter)
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Chef Melissa Rodriguez developed this dish for her new restaurant Al Coro, featuring tender triangular packages of fresh pasta with a potato, fontina and mascarpone filling, finished with nutty browned butter and grated Parmesan cheese.
- Kosher salt
- 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes
- ⅓ cup mascarpone
- ¼ pound fontina
- 1 whole egg and 1 beaten egg
- 6-8 fresh lasagna sheets, about 12 by 6 inches
- Olive oil, for greasing pan
- 8 tablespoons of butter
- Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a small saucepan filled with salted water. Place the pan on high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Strain and pat dry.
- When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them. Working over a bowl, run hot potatoes through a rice machine or grate onto medium holes of a grater. Stir in mascarpone. Break up any clumps so that the mixture is completely smooth. Grate fontina onto medium holes of the grater and stir the potato mixture together with 1 whole egg until fully combined. Season with salt.
- Cut sheets of pasta into triangles so that the short sides are about 3 inches long each. Brush the outer edges with beaten egg. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of potato mixture into the center of half of the pasta triangles. Top filled triangles with the remaining triangles. Use the tines of a fork to tuck the edges together to seal them completely.
- Working in batches to avoid crowding, carefully drop the filled pasta into a large pot of boiling water. Once each triangle floats up and floats on the surface of the water for about 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to fish it out and transfer to an olive oil-lined baking sheet.
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is golden brown and smells nutty, remove the pan from the heat after 3-5 minutes.
- Arrange the warm pasta on 4 plates and pour over the browned butter. Sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
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