RECIPE: Christmas Cracker Pasta with Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Sage Butter

by - December 16, 2010

I was quite taken aback by the frankly gopping concept behind Fire & Stone's festive pizza this year which is topped with (deep breath) turkey, roast potatoes, chestnut, sage and onion stuffing, pork and apricot sausage meat, creamy brie, cranberry sauce and gravy. I was actually invited to review this pizza but with the Italian authorities ready to strip my of my nationality if I was ever found out to have eaten this abomination, I waited instead for the verdict from a couple of fellow bloggers who manned up and actually ate the thing. The feedback was as you would expect.

But then finding myself oddly inspired by the F&S horror, I wanted to marry a traditional Italian dish with the classic Christmas lunch so following an afternoon beavering away in the kitchen, I present you dear readers, with Caramelle allo tacchino, salsiccia e mirtilli rossi con burro salvia or Christmas Cracker Pasta with Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Sage Butter.

Although this recipe started out as a bit of a joke, I was so pleased with how they came out, really delicious with the slight sweetness of the cranberries and the savoury saltiness of the sage butter. Mr Graphic Foodie said they were excellent! Whereas I think the Fire & Stone pizza is a total turkey, this pasta (if I don't say so myself) is a bit of a cracker.

Caramelle means "sweets" in Italian, obviously referencing the shape, but I thought they looked like Christmas crackers. You have to roll the pasta really, really thinly as you want to avoid a thick build up on the folds which won't cook through, so if you are not majorly confident with pasta making then by all means make them into little ravioli.

I now am the proud owner of a Kitchen Aid mixer so I use that for making pasta dough, but I have also outlined instruction on making it by hand.

The cranberry sauce I used here was made in an edible Christmas gift class at Recipease in Brighton which was infused with clementines and thyme and so easy to make. In the class we also make lemon curd and an incredible florentine butter, both as it turns out way too good to give as gifts!

Finally as the snow this week has hindered food shopping and I wanted to crumble over some pieces of chestnuts as a finishing touch to this dish which I think would work quite well.

Serves 3-4 people.

300g type '00' flour
3 eggs
pinch of salt

1tbs Olive oil
Half an onion, very finely chopped
200g Minced turkey
1 Good quality pork sausage, casing removed
A sprig of thyme, leaves stripped
1 Heaped tbs of cranberry sauce
1 Medium potato

50g of butter
6 fresh sage leaves

To make the pasta by hand. Sift the flour into a mound and make a little well in the centre. Crack the eggs into the well and add the pinch of salt. Using a fork, gradually combine the flour and the egg, working from the inside out. Once combined and manageable, knead the dough for a good 10 minutes. If the dough is too soft or sticky, add more flour and if too hard add a little water. It should be firm, elastic and smooth.

To make the pasta using a Kitchen Aid mixer. Sift the flour into the mixer bowl and add the other pasta ingredients. Using the beater attachment on speed 1 combine the ingredients. Switch to the dough hook and set on speed 2 for 5-8 minutes until the dough forms into a nice smooth and elastic texture. Add a little touch of water (not too much!) if needed.

After using either method, form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes whilst you make the filling.

To make the filling. Boil the potato until soft. Drain, mash and set aside. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onion gently until translucent. Add the minced turkey and sausage meat and fry until brown. Add the thyme leaves, cranberry sauce and season generously. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the mashed potato, combining really thoroughly. Set as aside whilst you roll out the pasta.

Make the pasta. Remove the pasta from the fridge. Dust the worktop with flour. Cut the dough into 6 pieces and put each piece through a pasta machine, starting off with a wide setting and getting thinner and thinner, doing all 6 pieces on one setting before moving on to thinner settings, dusting the sheets with a little flour where needed. Go as thin as you dare/are comfortable managing. On my Imperia machine I go to the next to last thinnest setting for this shape.

Cut the pasta strips into 5cm squares using a pastry wheel or knife. Place a teaspoon of the mixture in the middle of the square, brush the sides with a little water using a pastry brush. Roll up into a tube then twist the ends in opposite directions to form a sweet wrapper shape. Ensure the fold is secure. Rest on a lightly floured surface whilst you do the rest. I think it is now best to let these rest for 15 minutes to dry out a little, but you can cook straight away.

To make the sauce. Melt the butter for the sauce in a small saucepan with the sage leaves so they infuse.

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water with a slug of olive oil until they rise to the surface. Cook until al dente, testing the thickest part in the folds.

Drain and place on warmed plates, spooning over the butter sauce e Buon Natale!

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