Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Homemade Raviolis with Ricotta Parmesan Filling

Gift that keeps on giving!
Doing the zombie shuffle, I'm back again. Sorry for the silence, but after the brutal apple pie defeat at the face of grandmas, meme's, vovós and the like, I needed a mo'. So without further delay, let's open up the new year with a bang. Santa brought Mama Claus a bitchin new pasta attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer and that can only mean one thing: Adventures in Ravioli-stan.
I've never made raviolis or pasta before, but figure that with a patient hand and a good amount of sitting at home time, anything is possible. Still, to start out, 'tis always safer to keep it simple, stupid, and Epicurious delivered a seemingly easy recipe, which you can take a look at here
Handmade ricotta and parm raviolis
The recipe was fairly straightforward, with the filling ingredients just folded together and stored in the fridge until the appropriate hour. I will say that the bigger half and I tried the pasta dough recipe and found that maybe the air was too dry for the dough to come together using the stand mixer with the dough hook. So, looking to adapt and conquer, one at a time, we added an extra two eggs and a little touch of water... presto... the bits of loose dough came together on the hook and began kneading like a charm. After wrapping in plastic wrap and allowing the dough to rest for about a half hour, it was time to launch the shiny new pasta attachment. The dough was cut into golf ball size pieces, run through the widest setting, folded over, run through again and one more time. Then each piece was given a turn through settings 2, 3, 4, and 5 a few times until nearly paper thin. To make the raviolis, a tablespoon of filling spaced is placed about three inches apart, egg wash brushed between each lump of ricotta goodness, and gingerly we laid a second sheet of the pasta over from left to right, taking extra care to shimmy all air from around the edges of the filling. Each individual ravioli was sliced into their cute little square shapes, and we were in business. It only took about two minutes per generous batch in boiling salted water for the pasta to be ready. 
I should also mention that we chose to make my favorite pasta sauce, a simple tomato sauce (chopped onion, carrot, and celery sauteed for five minutes, add ten cloves of chopped garlic and saute for twenty minutes, add a glass of cheap red wine turn up the heat to medium, let cook for fifteen minutes, turn down to low, dump in two big cans of plum tomatoes,  and a couple cups of chicken stock and let her simmer for the next few hours, salting and peppering near the end... mash up for a chunkier sauce or blend for a smoother, sexier experience). 
Great meal to ring in 2013
Now, I'll not be as daft as to say that this was easy, but every so often you make something that takes time and a good amount of fussiness, sit back and say, "god damn, that was totally worth it." Store-bought raviolis, even the fresh ones that put the extra few dollar hurt on your wallet don't hold a candle to homemade pasta. The firmness, springiness of the actual pasta was a delight to chew and served as a perfect vehicle for a tangy, sweet and savory tomato sauce. The only remaining wonder to behold was a hot and creamy ricotta center to each little parcel of made-from-scratch noodles, revealing with each bite a little more and a little more of the nutty, salty Parmesan. You have a substantial meal with a balance of flavors that are deceivingly fresh, even at the dead of winter. What a treat! Thanks to Pudas Claus for a fabulous Christmas gift...though I'm sure that his fantastic idea was just a touch self-serving. Indubitably, there will be pasta in 2013.
Happy New Year, everybody!

For the ravioli filling:
1 pound fresh ricotta, drained if wet
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest (from about 1/2 a lemon)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the ravioli dough:
3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs (note: original recipe calls for 2 large eggs, we added more because the dough was not coming together)
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)

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