Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fresh Ravioli

I always read those packaged ravioli that say serving size is like 3 or 5 ravs, but trying it with store-bought can be disappointing. The filling is usually barely there and the pasta, even if well cooked, lacks any heartiness. The solution for this is to make your own, and seriously, it's easy.

I start with the filling for the ravioli. I used well-trimmed gizzards (about 3/4 lb.), fresh globe basil from my garden, three slices from the beef roast and about 1 Tbsp. grated diakon radish. A little parsley chopped fine and added with 6 oz. tomato sauce and 2 oz. water to flavor the meat. The green, red and banana (sweet) peppers are for the sauce.

I brought the sauce up to a boil, then added the gizzard meat and beef, chopped very small, stirred once, then turned the heat down to medium. The idea is for them to simmer until tender and then run them through the blender to make fine enough for filling. When I put the meat in the blender, I did my best to leave the tomato sauce in the pan.

You want your filling mix to be on the finer side but not wet. Put this aside while you make the sauce and pasta. My sauce started with leftover tomato sauce from making the filling. I sliced the remaining roast into petit steaks. I also used half a jar of Four Cheese pasta sauce (for the two of us, we really don't need a whole jar).

Here are all my various peppers, sliced thinly, bite size and added to the pan just after the steaks. Get a little brown on both sides of the steak, then add the peppers and turn the heat down before adding the pasta sauce. Once you've added the pasta sauce, stir and cover, turn the heat to low and let simmer while you make pasta.

Pasta dough is so easy to make it's ridiculous. I think my next purchase should be the pasta roller for my Kitchenaid mixer so I can make my own spaghetti noodles. Into your mixer, start with 2 cups flour and into a separate cup, break 4 eggs. Breaking them into a separate cup assures no eggshell pieces get into the dough. Start the mixer and add 2 Tbsp. oil to the mixer and let it do it's thing. Slowly add the last cup of flour. Occasionally, you will need to turn the mixer off and scrap down the sides and turn the bottom. Keep working until dough forms a raggy ball. Turn onto a little flour on your counter, knead a bit until smooth and cover with plastic wrap to let it rest without drying out.

To make raviolis, start by preparing a couple sheet pans with a layer of flour or cornmeal to prevent sticking. You need at least 2 because you can't layer these before cooking. Second, cut your ball of dough into 2 to 4 pieces, put the rest back under the wrap and work the first piece into a flat circle. With your rolling pin, roll dough out really thin, like 1/4 inch or less. Cut the dough into bunches of little squares and try to keep them the same size.

Take another egg and break it into a measuring cup, whisk it with a fork, then get a pastry brush to brush the ravioli. Then every other square gets about 1/2 to 1 tsp. filling. I used small bites of filling because I was serving them with steak; I think if I was just serving ravs, I'd have used quite a bit more filling. Put the empty square on top a filled square and press together to seal the edges around filling. Take each square and set on your prepped pans until ready to boil. Repeat until dough and filling are used up. The dough can also be refrigerated or frozen.

Since you can't put a lot of ravioli in the pan at a time, I pulled my largest saucepan and filled it about 2/3rds the way up with Cold water and salt. Let come to a boil, then add 3 to 4 ravs to the boiling water. The water should slow it's boil, then return as the pasta gets hot. Ravs will sink to the bottom of the pot, but as soon as they are ready, they will rise to the surface. The easiest way I've found to strain ravioli is to use a Chinese mesh scoop (for frying in a wok).

I put a little bit of butter over each batch of raviolis to keep them from sticking to each other. These are a fairly large. Toss them occasionally while you add each batch to be sure they aren't sticking, but try to keep the amount of butter down to just enough to lightly coat surfaces.

Once you've completely boiled all your raviolis, adjust the seasoning on your sauce and serve. Then, hope that you have leftovers for breakfast.

These are just as good the next day. I had a couple for breakfast. I think these would also be awesome made into fried ravioli, lightly buttered, dipped in seasoned panko crumbs and baked on a greased baking sheet until golden and crisp.

Ravioli Dough
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 yolk, for egg washed (I used a whole egg rather than waste half an egg)
Combine flour & salt.
Add eggs one at a time and continue to mix. Then drizzle oil into mixer and add flour until forms a ball. Knead until smooth and elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes before shaping.

Cut in half (I divided mine into thirds). Dust counter with flour and roll into rectangle. Brush surface with egg wash. Drop 1 Tbsp. filling apx. 2 inches apart on half the sheet of pasta. Top with other half, gently press out air pockets and form a seal.

Cook in salted water 10 to 15 minutes. Do not over crowd pan. They will float once cooked.

You can use any combination of things you like for your filling ... cheeses, Italian sausage, minced vegetables ... I created the beef-gizzard blend because I had gizzards in the freezer and needed a way to serve them in a manner my husband would eat them, or in other words, hide them. Sorry Hun!!

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