Lunchbreak: Prune chef Gabrielle Hamilton makes pasta kerchiefs

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Gabrielle Hamilton

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Pasta Kerchief with Poached Egg, French Ham and Brown Butter

For the pasta kerchiefs:
1 2/3 cups + 1/2 cup “00” flour
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup cold water

For the rest of the dish:
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
8 eggs
8–12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, +/-
8 slices smoked cured jambon de Paris
3/4 cup shaved Parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
best-quality balsamic vinegar - for sprinkling
kosher salt
coarsely ground black pepper

Place 1  2/3 cups flour in the food processor, turn the processor on, and add 2 egg yolks and 1 egg, one at a time, through feed tube. Mixture should have consistency of moist cornmeal.Add salt and olive oil and, with the motor running, add cold water a couple of Tablespoons at a time, until the dough just gathers into a ball and is difficult to work in the food processor. Depending on the humidity of the day, you may or may not use all of the cold water.  Transfer to a work surface lightly dusted with flour. Knead the dough for a full 10 minutes, even using a kitchen timer if necessary. The dough will start out sticky and coarse and by the end will feel silky and smooth and fine to the touch, and will not stick to your hands.  Let the dough rest on the counter lightly dusted with flour and wrapped loosely in film/plastic wrap, for 2 hours. Clamp the pasta machine to the far end of the prep table and give yourself some room. Cut dough in four pieces; shape each into a vague rectangle.  Roll dough first on thickest setting, then pass the pasta through the rollers, decreasing the machine setting each time through, working your way down to the thinnest setting. (Start at 1 and move through each notch, rolling neatly, all the way to 8.) Do not flour the dough as you go. You’ve either got the balance right at this stage or not.  Dough should pass through rollers without sticking but still have “grip.”  When you have passed the dough through the machine on the thinnest setting, your sheet will be so long it takes up the entire length of the prep table and is so thin you could read the newspaper through it. Cut the long sheet into 8" rectangles.  Wrap individually in parchment strips cut just wider and just longer than the pasta sheet, roll up like a kid’s Fruit Roll-Up, and store for service in a quart container.

To plate, per portion:
Fill a wide and deep sauteuse/deep pan with water and bring to a boil. Add white vinegar.  Gently crack egg into a ramekin to check yolk is not already broken. Tilt egg into the boiling water.  Give the water a gentle swirl with a spoon, encouraging the raw white of the egg to encase the yolk in a nicely rounded shape.  Reduce the heat if necessary to keep the water at a lively simmer.  Poach the egg until the white is fully set but the yolk is still runny.  You can check for doneness by lifting it out with a slotted spoon and gently prodding with your fingertip.  If you see runny white, return to the simmering water.  When the egg is nicely poached, remove with a slotted spoon, place in a pasta bowl, and set aside next to you in the warm area not far from the burners. Move quickly from here to finish, please. Dunk a slice of ham in the poaching water, shake off hot water, and drape casually over the egg.  Drop a sheet of pasta into the boiling poaching water and cook for 90 seconds. You will see the sheet turn from yellowish to opaque and white.  Using the slotted spoon, gently transfer the pasta sheet to the bowl and lay it over the egg and ham like a slightly rumpled bed-sheet.  Some cooks have had better success using a fish spatula, and some use the large tweezers.  I don’t care which, just don’t tear the sheets.  I use a short-handled slotted and my fingers, which burns, but works. Let some drops of the warm poaching water accrue in the bottom of the bowl.  But don’t drown it! Brown a good chunk of butter, about 2 tablespoons per order, and spoon liberally over pasta.  Be cautious about burning the butter; it goes from brown to black in a heartbeat, but take it right up to the edge—the dish needs the nutty, toasted flavor. Drizzle with a few drops of good aged balsamic vinegar.  Scatter with a few shavings of Parmesan cheese and the toasted pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper.


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