Lamb & Red Wine Tortellini with Truffle Butter

This is a gorgeously indulgent dish, stuffed with luxurious ingredients, and though I say it myself, it’s absolutely delicious. The rich filling is bursting with flavour from the red wine, and although the butter sauce, infused with fresh thyme and truffle oil, is also rich, serving the tortellini in this traditional way (i.e. without a tomato sauce smothering everything) means that the flavours of the filling have room to stand out. The fresh, simple flavours of the pasta itself stop everything getting too overpowering, and although making your own pasta is not a quick job, it is incredibly satisfying and great for showing off at dinner parties – plus it’s much, much easier than it looks.

Freshly-prepared and ready to be cooked
To make the pasta:
2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks
250g strong white flour
To make the filling:
200g lamb mince
1 small onion
A large glass of red wine
A handful of fresh thyme
A splash of truffle oil
Salt and black pepper
To make the butter sauce:
150g salted butter
A handful of fresh thyme
A splash of truffle oil

Serves 2

The first thing to do is make your pasta – for this, see my How To page. You need to do this in advance so that the pasta has time to rest in the fridge. Also, don’t underestimate the time needed to roll it out (using a pasta machine – see my Kitchen Bits and Bobs page for info) and make up the tortellini – in total this will take about an hour, perhaps an hour and a half.

Once the pasta is resting in the fridge, make the filling – you need to give it time to cool before you start putting it in the tortellini. First of all, peel and finely dice the onion, then pop it into a small blender and chop into small pieces – I found my Cuisinart blender really handy for this job. Next, add the lamb mince to the blender and blend together with the onion to make a fairly smooth paste. Scrape out into a saucepan, add a splash of olive oil, and turn the heat up to medium-high.

Once the meat starts sizzling, stir and break up with a wooden spoon until there’s no trace of pink left in the meat. Add the red wine and allow it to bubble away, then season well. The meat will release quite a lot of fat, so keep stirring until this has mostly disappeared again, then add the fresh thyme and the truffle oil – only a splash as the flavour is quite overpowering. Have a taste to check the seasoning, then set aside to cool (transferring the filling to a bowl will help it cool faster).

When you’ve rolled out the pasta into thin sheets (see the How To on fresh pasta for more details), cut into squares to make the tortellini – the size of the squares will depend on your rolled sheets, and doesn’t have to be too exact, but mine were roughly 8cm on each side. Bring your filling over as well as a small bowl of cold water, and a plate dusted with flour to put your finished tortellini on.

To make the tortellini, place a small teaspoonful of filling in the middle of each square (not too much). Dip your finger in the bowl of water and moisten the pasta around the filling. Then, fold the pasta over, corner to corner, so that you end up with triangle (rather than a rectangle) and press down around the filling, getting as much of the air out as possible. Next, take the top two corners of the triangle (those on the long side) and fold the triangle over once. Finally, pinch the two corners together and seal with a little more water.

You can keep the tortellini in the fridge for a few hours in you want to make them ahead, but I wouldn’t keep them for any longer than that. When you’re ready to finish them off, fill a pan with hot water and wait for it to get to a nice rolling boil before you add the tortellini. Set a timer for 8 minutes.

Smothered in truffle butter sauce - gorgeous
In the meantime, pop the ingredients for the butter sauce in a small saucepan and heat gently. Don’t allow it to bubble – as soon as it starts, take it off the heat and put to one side. The flavours of the thyme and the truffle oil will spread through the butter.

When the timer goes, test one of the tortellini to make sure the pasta is perfectly cooked (the filling, obviously, has already been cooked through). To serve, dish out the tortellini and drizzle the butter sauce over the top, then tuck in while it’s hot – fabulous.