We are well and truly into the pasta belt of Europe, unsurprising given that Slovenia shares a border with Italy. These baby pasta dumplings called idruski žlikrofi are from the Idrija region of Slovenia and have a European PDO, that's a protected designation of origin. They look like little hats don't they? ...As an avid hat collector, (we have vintage hats mounted behind our bed), and the self proclaimed pasta queen of Forest Hill, (challenge me if you dare), it could only be this dish that we chose for Slovenia week.
Idruski žlikrofi are typically served with a 'sauce' called bakalca, which is actually braised lamb and could easily qualify as a dish in its own right rather than being relegated to accompanying sauce. It's hard to decide if the idruski žlikrofi are served with the bakalca or if the bakalca is served with the idruski žlikrofi.
As luck would have it we were down at my parents house the week before cooking these and they have a flock of shetland sheep so I nabbed myself some hogget from their freezer. Hogget is the midpoint between lamb and mutton it takes slightly longer than lamb to braise and is absolutely delicious. Don't bust a gut trying to find hogget though, just use mutton ...or lamb.
- 2 quantities egg pasta dough
- 300g potatoes (about 2 medium)
- half an onion very finely diced
- 2 rashers smoked bacon, very finely diced (I find cutting them with scissors easier than with a knife)
- 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
- 0.5 tsp dried marjoram
- Salt and pepper to taste
Braised hogget (or lamb) sauce
- 400g hogget (or mutton) diced into 4cm cubes
- 1 onion finey diced
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 50g butter
- 130g carrots, peeled and roughly grated
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
NUTRITIONAL CONTENT PER PORTION
- Calories | 427
- Fat | 16.4
Serves | 6
Prep Time | 40 minutes (pasta) 10 minutes (sauce)
Cooking Time | 20 minutes (pasta) 1 hour 40 minutes (sauce)
method (pasta parcels)
1. Peel the potatoes and chop into chunks, put in a pan of salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for 12-15 minutes until tender. Drain and mash.
2. In a small frying pan, fry the bacon and onion together until they are golden, you don't need any oil, the fat from the bacon will do it.
3. Stir the bacon and onion into the mashed potato and add the chives, marjoram and season with salt and pepper to taste. Leave to cool completely before the next stage.
4. Roll the filling into hazelnut sized balls.
5. Work with your pasta in two batches to make it more manageable. Run your pasta dough through the lasagne slot of your pasta machine, working your way through the settings from largest to the smallest (I put my pasta through each setting twice). I have an imperia machine and for me this is setting 6. If you're rolling by hand aim for about 1mm thick.
You should end up with a long piece of lasagne about 16cm wide. Straighten the edges and square off the corners with a pizza cutter or knife then divide into two equal sized pieces across the length.
6. Place your filling balls on the lower half of each strip of pasta at 4cm intervals.
7. Fold the top of your pasta sheet over the filling and tightly seal the parcels closed from the seam outwards to expel any trapped air.
8. With a pizza cutter or sharp knife separate the little pasta parcels equally.
9. Turn each parcel so that it is upright with the seam face down on your work surface and gently indent the top of each with your finger, being careful not to rupture and pasta.
To cook, immerse in boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes. They're ready when they float to the surface. Serve with braised lamb/hogget, recipe below.
method (lamb/hogget 'sauce')
- Coat your meat with 1 tablespoon of the flour and shake off the excess. Melt the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan and add the meat. Cook on high, turning the meat until it is browned on all sides. Remove the meat reserving the juices and fat in the pan.
- Add the onion and carrots to the pan and cook on medium stirring occasionally until golden.
- Return the meat back to the pan, season well with salt and pepper, stir, cover and cook on medium until all the juices have evaporated.
- Stir in another tablespoon of flour and fill the pan with enough water to reach two thirds the height of the ingredients and add the bay leaf. Cover, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the meat is tender and falls apart. It took me 1.5 hours. Stir and top up the water halfway through cooking.
- Stir in the vinegar once cooked.