FORAGED HERB PYRAMID AGNOLOTTI PATA NEGRA, NETTLESOME CHEESE
WHEN TAMA MATSUOKA WONG asked our receptionist if we could use the herbs she’d found in her New Jersey backyard in the menu we would serve her and her husband that night, she didn’t realize that we would never want to cook without them again. Little by little, she started bringing different and unusual herbs, coaxing our chef de cuisine, Eddy Leroux, to continuously create new recipes around these wild edibles. And she couldn’t have known that, with Eddy, she would end up writing a book: Foraged Flavors. Bursting with deep flavors—bitter, peppery, and tangy—the small packets complete a forest-style landscape with morels, baby turnips, and cheese studded with nettles. Paper-thin curls of pata negra (Spanish jamón serrano from Iberian pigs) provide a smoky touch, lighting up the cream and white wine liaison.
If using nettles, wear gloves to guard your skin from irritants. Separately rinse all of the greens with cold water to remove any dirt. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and set a large bowl of ice water on the side. Boil the greens in separate batches until tender, 1 to 2 minutes each, depending on their size, and transfer them to the ice water. Once chilled, transfer the greens to a colander lined with cheesecloth. Press the greens and squeeze the cheesecloth to remove any excess water. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop. In a small sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor with the chopped greens, cheeses, and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until well combined but still coarse. Transfer the filling to piping bags and store, chilled.
Remove the pasta dough from the refrigerator to rest at room temperature for 1 hour. Sprinkle the counter with flour, unwrap the dough, and divide it into 4 equal pieces. Roll the pieces of dough through a pasta machine to make sheets thin enough to see your hand through. While working, cover the dough with sheets of plastic wrap to keep it from drying.
Cut each sheet into at least eight 1½-inch squares. While working, cover the dough with sheets of plastic wrap to keep it from drying. Pipe 1 tablespoon of the filling into the center of each square and brush the outside edges of the dough with water. Using your fingertips, pinch two opposite corners of the square and pull them up toward each other to meet above the filling; press lightly so they stick. Repeat with the remaining two corners. Seal the edges by pinching from the bottom four corners upward to the tip, forming a pyramid. Pinch the top to seal. Transfer to a baking sheet dusted with flour. Repeat the process to make at least 32 pyramids and chill until ready to use. (At this point you can freeze the pyramids for up to 3 weeks.)
For the Soft-Poached Quail Eggs
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Boil the eggs for 2 minutes, then strain and peel under cold running water; reserve on the side.
For the Mushroom and Pata Negra Sauce
In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, cook the ham fat for 10 minutes, or until well rendered but not colored. Add the shallots and mushroom stems and cook, stirring, until the shallots are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until almost dry. Add the chicken stock and simmer to reduce by half. Transfer the mixture to a blender, add the heavy cream and cheese, and puree. Season with the sherry vinegar and salt and pepper. Pass through a fine-meshed sieve; reserve chilled.
For the Wild Mushroom Fricassée
To clean the mushrooms, dunk them in a bowl of cold water, leave for 2 minutes, scoop them up, and repeat until the water that settles at the bottom is clear. Strain and pat dry with a towel.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the butter, sauce, garlic, and thyme. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and keep warm.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Transfer the remaining sauce to a large sauté pan over medium heat and stir to heat through. Add the fiddlehead ferns and turnips to the boiling water and boil until tender, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, scoop them into the wild mushroom fricassée and toss to combine. In 4 separate batches, boil the pyramids for 2 minutes. With a strainer, scoop them into the pan with the sauce. Swirl the pyramids in the sauce to coat.
For each serving, scoop 4 pyramids into a warm pasta bowl. Spoon the mushroom fricassée with 2 turnips and 4 fiddlehead ferns around the pyramids. Garnish with 2 quail eggs, several shavings of Nettlesome cheese, 4 pieces of ham, and 4 micro wood sorrel leaves.