Monday, May 21, 2012

Ravioli Party

We hosted several friends for a ravioli party this past weekend and it was delicious!! We opted for one vegetarian and one meat filling using everyday Italian recipes and two pounds of fresh pasta dough later we were all rubbing our bellies and moaning from fullness but it was so worth it. For the veggie filling (which you can make slightly less veg friendly by adding bacon, because as we all know, bacon really does make everything better) we caramelized a red onion mixed with tender braised kale, creamy ricotta and a salty bite of Parmesan. When topped with a spicy tomato sauce, it was a real winner. But then the meat ravioli came out... and I have to say, while I love love love kale, the pork filling really blew us away. I knew we were in for a treat when I pulled the roasted pork shoulder out of the oven and could barely keep myself from scarfing the whole thing down in one full swoop! When paired with cheese and spices and browned ground pork (yes, more pork!) we were hard pressed not to eat all the filling before it made it into the dough! It was salty and meaty and superbly succulent. Paired with a brown butter sage sauce, it’s another dish you want to climb into the bowl with and do the backstroke. These recipes are pretty straight forward and with some extra hands and a bottle or two of wine, a ravioli party can be an easy way to host and feed your favorite people.

Kale and Caramelized Onion Filling
A Girl and Her Kitchen

1 bunch of kale, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
1-2 tbsp bacon fat (can replace with butter or olive oil or just cook 2 slices of bacon to add to filling if you want)
1 red onion, diced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
6 oz ricotta, part skim

In a non-stick pan, melt one tbsp of butter on low heat and then cook the red onion on low heat for 15 minutes stirring very occasionally until the onion is somewhat caramelized (sweet and light brown). Can keep cooking onion to full caramelized if you have the time (another 15-20 mins). Set the onion aside in bowl of food processor. In the same pan, melt bacon fat if using in pan with garlic on medium heat, add the kale and red pepper flakes, sauté for 5 minutes, add chicken stock and braise for 10 minutes until kale is soft. Set aside with onions. If needed, add 1 tbsp of olive oil to pan to sauté spinach until just wilted. Add to onions and kale. Pulse the onions, kale and spinach 10-15 times until course. Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in the ricotta (enough to make it creamy but not too much that it takes over the greens). Add salt and pepper to taste. (Serve this ravioli with a spicy tomato sauce or brown butter.)

Spicy Basic Tomato Sauce
A Girl and Her Kitchen

1 can crushed tomatoes, fire roasted if possible
1/4 cup good red wine
1 small red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbps butter
1 tbsp oregano
Pinch of sugar
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup torn fresh basil leaves (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a sauce pan, sauté the onion, pinch of salt and sugar in 1 tbsp of olive oil for 5 minutes on medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes sauté another 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix to combine, sauté another 2 minutes. Add the wine and let reduce, 2-3 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and oregano, stir to combine and simmer for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste seasoning and adjust as needed. When sauce is at desired thickness, take off the heat and stir in basil leaves. (Could substitute your favorite jar sauce)

Pork Sage Mushroom Filling
A Girl and Her Kitchen (adapted from Two Hot Potatoes)

3/4 lb ground Pork
3/4 lb pork shoulder
1/2 lb mushrooms diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 egg for filling, 1 egg for ravioli sheet
1/4 cup onion (diced very small)
2 tsp. fresh oregano
2 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tbs fresh sage
1/2 cup fine grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup thinly diced pancetta (optional)

Place the pork shoulder on a tinfoil lined baking sheet. Season both sides with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place uncovered in a 450 oven and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 250. Add two cloves of crush garlic and two sprigs of fresh oregano. Wrap the pork tightly in two layers of tinfoil and return to the oven and cook for at least 3 hours. It should be for tender when done. Shred lightly with a fork and set aside (and try not to eat it all).

In a large saute pan cook your pancetta until just crispy- then set aside on a paper towel to drain. In the same saute pan, cook the mushrooms in one even layer. Do not stir much, until they have released their moisture, turning them once or twice then set aside. In the same pan, set to medium high with a drizzle of olive oil warm your minced garlic until just fragrant, about one minute. Add the diced onion and cook for about 3-4 minutes until translucent, scrapping up the bits of the bottom of the pan. Add all your chopped herbs and the ground pork. Work the mixture thoroughly with a wooden spoon to break up all the meat. Cook about 3/4 the way through (it will finish cooking when you boil it in the pasta). Then transfer the pork filling to a mixing bowl with pancetta, mushrooms and shredded roasted pork. Add the Parmesan cheese and taste for seasoning, adjust as needed. Mix well incorporating everything then add your raw egg to help bind the filling together. (Best served with brown butter sage sauce.)

Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Girl and Her Kitchen

1/2 unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
pinch black pepper
4-6 fresh sage leaves

In a saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted the butter will foam up a bit, then subside. Once it melts add the sage. Watch carefully as lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan and around the edges (it's easy to burn to be careful here). Smell the butter; it should have a nutty aroma. Remove from heat and place on a cool surface to help stop the butter from cooking further and perhaps burning. Add salt and pepper and taste seasoning, adjust as needed. remove sage before serving.

Fresh Pasta
A Girl and Her Kitchen
3 cups “00” flour (aka double zero flour, all purpose, unbleached flour will also work)
4 -5 large eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt

For the dough: There are various methods to making fresh pasta (one of which is certainly buying fresh sheets of pasta!) I tend to follow Giada’s recipe because it’s generally pretty easy and least messy. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, salt and olive oil. In the bowl of a food processor, add flour and egg mixture and pulse until it comes together (about 30 seconds) so that when you pinch it, the flour sticks to itself. Then leave the machine running for one minute. Turn the mixture out onto a clean and lightly floured surface and knead until the dough comes together into a smoother ball (at least 10 mins). Cover securely in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes. After your pasta dough has had time to rest you can begin rolling it through the pasta machine to make your flat sheets. Cut ball into 4 or 5 sections and keep what you are not using wrapped in plastic wrap. Start with the widest setting and simply feed through the roller to make the sheets. Decrease the width by one stop each run through until you end up with a long, almost translucent sheet of pasta.

To make ravioli: Cut the long roll in to a more manageable length and place on a floured cutting surface. Dollop a spoon full of filling about 2 inches apart from each other. Our wide pasta sheets allowed us to make two rows on each sheet.

In a small bowl beat one egg with a little water. Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg on the pasta sheet around the filling. Lay a matching flat sheet of pasta on top of the filling layer and work with your fingers to press the pasta around each ravioli, trying best to get out any air bubbles. Then cut out each ravioli (I just used a pizza cutter to do this but you can buy nice pastry rollers with fluted edges that work better than the ravioli presses we tried to use first). Press tightly on the edges to make sure they are sealed (can also use a fork for this). Set them aside on a tray lined with parchment paper, once all your raviolis are cut, place them in the freezer for just 10 minutes to make sure they are set. If making a lot, do in batches otherwise pasta will dry too much.

Working in small batches drop your ravioli into boiling salted water and cook about 3-4 minutes until they all float, that’s when you know they are done.

Thanks to my awesome friends who helped make some of the most tasty ravioli ever!

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