My Cousin got us an inspiring Italian cookbook for our housewarming gift, so we decided to crack it open and give it a whirl on a lazy Saturday afternoon. The simplicity of Italian food is refreshing. However, simplicity usually means the ingredients must be fresh, and so this meant we had to make the pasta dough from scratch. Welcome back to another episode of Freestyle Kitchen!
The first step is to make the dough from eggs, flour, oil, and salt.
After kneading the dough to remove any inconsistencies, and clumps of flour, we rested it for 30 minutes in the fridge. This would be a good time to work on the filling.
The recipe called for beef stew meat, and standard mirepoix (the combo of carrots, onion, celery). Adding rosemary, sage, bay leaf, and italian parsley created more depth of flavor. Prosciutto was also tossed into the mix.
The vegetables were diced.
All the filler ingredients were eventually combined into a saute pan, attempting to brown if possible. Brown = flavor.
Red wine was used to deglaze the pan, and to give more body to the filler.
We evaporated all the liquid and alcohol, so the filler wouldn't be too wet and seep through the ravioli.
The recipe called for spinach to be added near the end, to simply wilt. The filler was left to cool, and then blended into a puree. Food processor recommended. We didn't own one, so we used our blender, somewhat successfully, but it was suboptimal. We are currently accepting food processor donations.
Common sense told me the filler should cool. So we took this time to roll out our pasta. We busted out our pasta maker, which we thought we'd never use. We looked up a few youtube videos to figure out how to do this. In summary, you should run the pasta through the widest setting (1) several times, rotating it 90 degrees each pass through. This effectively kneads the pasta. After kneading the pasta, you can then run it through normally, making it thinner each time, by sequentially adjusting the knob. (We went up to level 6, but found 7 or 8 might be better to have a thinner dough).
I think the next time we do this, the setting should be at least 8. Since ravioli is a "sandwich" you don't want the dough too thick.
The filler is then spooned onto half of the pasta sheet, giving enough space to allow folding, and sealing the edges of the ravioli. We used eggwash to seal the deal. The recipe called for 2 teaspoons, but we basically used one heaping teaspoon. Next time I do this, I will flatten out the filler somewhat, to give it a more consistent thickness throughout the ravioli.
We crimped the sealed edges with a fork, since we didn't have a fancy ravioli knife. They probably should be rounded corners too. I think a better way to achieve ravioli "rounds" (like in the fancy restaurants) is to use a round cutter. Any extra dough that was trimmed can be run through the pasta machine again to make more pasta sheets.
This is the finished product after boiling the ravioli. Remember fresh pasta cooks exceedingly fast: 2-3 minutes. The cooked ravioli was then drained, and dropped into the red wine sauce, which was basically 2 cups of red wine, reduced to half, with butter, and whole peppercorns. Although they say to never cook with wine you wouldn't drink, it is even more true in this case, since the sauce is essentially coming directly from the wine. I would recommend a full bodied wine. Garnish with parmesan cheese.
The red wine sauce seemed atypical to me, since I'm used to ravioli coming in some sort of rich, buttery, creamy sauce. However, in this case, the red wine had some nice acidity that lightened the dish which is rather heavy, in terms of the meaty filler.