with Butternut Squash Cream, Braised Leeks & Chestnuts

Recipe by Chef Patrick McKee

(serves 3-4)

Crispy Capers

1lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeds scooped out, and chopped into 1" dice

1 medium-size leek, white parts only, and thoroughly cleaned and julienned. Save the green tops for stock.

About 1qt vegetable stock or water

¾ c white wine

¼ c extra virgin olive oil ¼ c cream

2T unsalted butter

A few thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper

Heat 2T of the olive oil, add leeks, thyme and bay leaf, and saute until soft. Add the cubed butternut squash and saute until the squash begins to soften. Add the wine and reduce until the pan is almost dry. Add either vegetable stock or water to cover, and the cream, let simmer for approx. 30 minutes. When everything is cooked, let the pot sit off the heat for about 10-15 minutes to allow everything to ‘gather it’s thoughts’ while cooling slightly. Then blend, taste and adjust the seasoning.

For the Cappelletti Filling

100g pancetta, (1½ cups), small cubes

100g fat back, (1½ cups), small cubes

2 medium garlic cloves

zested nutmeg

Mix the pancetta and fat back in a bowl with the garlic and grated nutmeg, then lay out on a tray in the freezer. I also put the bottom of a food processor and blade in the freezer also for about 10-15 minutes. Then pulse everything together until a paste forms, continuing to scrape down the sides of the food processor until everything is evenly distributed.

For the Braised Leeks

1 medium-size leek. Thoroughly cleaned and cut into ¼" thick coins

1c vegetable stock or water

2T white wine

2T olive oil

2T lemon juice

a few sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 325 degrees. When the leeks are cut into rings, place in a heavy bottom square pan. Combine all the liquids and heat, adding the bay leaf and thyme, and salt to taste. Pour over the leeks and cover with foil. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, until the leeks are soft. Reserve the liquid to use in the final steps with the butternut squash cream sauce.

For the Cappelletti

About 300g (12 ounces) pasta dough. Makes 30-40 Cappelletti

Semolina for dusting

I like to use pasta dough with egg yolks and a bit of olive oil. For this, I suggest using a similar dough that you are used to or like. The use of egg yolk or whole egg gives the pasta dough the elasticity it needs to stretch so that it can be filled. I like to roll it out to about 1/32", or to 7 on a pasta roller. When the sheets are rolled, I dust my work area and sheets with a bit of semolina to keep the sheets from sticking. Using a 3" cutter, I cut circles for the cappelletti, then spoon a teaspoon of filling. Using a squirt bottle with water, mist the dough to keep it from drying out. Then fold the dough over to form a half-moon and crimp together around the filling to avoid air pockets. Squeeze together the edges so that the two layers of dough have the same thickness as one layer. Fold the ends together around your middle finger and press together again to form a single layer. It seems difficult at first, but keep practicing your folds, and they will get better and better. Sprinkle with semolina after finishing folding, and either place in the fridge if you’re going to be cooking right away, or freeze for later.

To Finish

1 tsp chopped thyme

2T chopped chestnuts

1T butter

1c vegetable stock

Splash fresh lemon juice

Grana Padano for grating

In a small sauce pan, heat the butternut squash cream with 1T butter, a little more vegetable stock if it needs thinning, and 1T of the extra virgin olive oil, and finally a splash of lemon juice, tasting as you go for balance of acidity and savory and keep hot. Don’t let the sauce boil.

In a separate small saute pan, add ½c of the vegetable stock, 1 oz of the pasta water, chopped chestnuts, leeks, 1tsp butter and bring to a simmer. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, add the cappelletti and let cook for 2-3 minutes, until a bit tender but still chewy. Using a spider strainer, pull the cappelletti from the water and add to the pan with the leeks, and chestnuts. Add a splash of lemon juice and taste. To plate, spoon the butternut squash cream to the bottom of a few bowls, then spoon the cappelletti, leeks and chestnuts into the cream with a bit of the liquid from the pan. Grate fresh Grana Padano over the top with some fresh cracked pepper and enjoy!