Some historians claim that ravioli was invented at the beginning of the 19th century as a way to use up leftovers. Others disagree and say this particular type of filled pasta already existed in the 14th century. After all Boccaccio mentions ravioli in Il Decameron. In any case, in our modern times ravioli and other types of filled pasta are available as an everyday meal, but the variations and fillings range from traditional to novelty creations. The only limitation is the chef’s imagination. This ground pork and duck filling has a strong flavor and goes well together with a creamy sauce with porcini mushrooms. Below there are detailed tips how you can avoid all the pitfalls and become a true masterful pasta maker.
125 gr ground pork
2 garlic cloves, minced
190 gr boiled duck breast, chopped
1 cup Swiss chard or spinach
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
1/3 tsp salt
Saute the ground pork together with the garlic cloves for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and drain any fat. Add the finely chopped duck breast, Swiss chard or spinach, fresh basil, fresh oregano and fresh parsley. Mix in a food processor until smooth. Add the ricotta cheese and egg yolk and season with salt.
Prepare the dough for the ravioli by following the instructions in Useful tips. Boil the ravioli for 4-6 minutes depending on the size and the amount of filling you use. Serve with Parmesan cheese and Crema di porcini al marsala.
Crema di porcini al Marsala:
2 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 cups porcini mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/3 cup Marsala
1/3 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the garlic cloves and the porcini mushrooms in a mix of olive oil and butter. After 5 minutes, add the Marsala and cook until half the Marsala has evaporated. Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer on a low heat. Add the cream and stir for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper.
* Prepare the ravioli on a lightly dusted surface with lightly dusted fingers. This way you can press the rims of the ravioli firmly together and the ravioli won’t stick to your fingers or the working surface.
* Lay out flour (50g per person) on an even surface. Create a round circle that looks like a well and break 1 egg yolk per person and set it in the middle. Keep the egg whites in a separate bowl. Stir the yolk(s) with a fork and gradually take more and more flour. After a while, start kneading with your hands and continue for 5 minutes.
* The consistency of the dough is important. When you shape the ravioli you don’t want the pasta dough to break.
* The more wheat you use, the dryer the dough gets. Harder and dryer dough gives you nice, chewy ravioli with a distinct wheat flavor. Softer dough is creamier and much easier to work with and it tastes great, too. If you are new to ravioli making, go for an elastic and creamy dough, which is fairly easy to knead and pass through the pasta machine. It won’t be sticky, but it’s good to have a little bit of flour ready for dusting before you roll it through the pasta machine.
* While kneading you can still make adjustments and dip the dough once or twice into the cup with the egg whites, if it is too hard. Add flour if it is too sticky.
* After kneading, wrap the dough in a damp tea towel and let it rest in the fridge for 1 hour. Then roll out the dough, dust a little with flour and pass through the pasta machine using the highest setting, then the second highest. Fold the dough double and pass it through the machine again using the same two positions. When you have repeated this 5 times altogether you should have a good, regular and even pasta sheet. Pass through the machine, going through all the positions down to the thinnest setting.
* If you are making large ravioli, cut the sheet in two long pieces of equal width. Cut the sheet in three when making smaller ravioli.
* Cut the sheets into squares and set half the squares aside. With the help of a teaspoon, put a little bit of the filling right in the middle of the square. Dip your finger into the cup with the egg whites and tap the rims of the filled squares.
* Make the ravioli by taking a square without a filling and setting it on top of a filled ravioli square, firmly pushing on the rims to seal the ravioli. Cook the ravioli for ca. 4-6 minutes depending on the filling and the size. When they have boiled, you might also choose to turn them for a few seconds in a pan with warm (not hot) melted butter before serving with a sauce of your choice.
* It’s best to keep the spoon you use for filling in a cup filled with cold water. This prevents the filling from sticking. It makes it easy to take just the right amount of filling for each ravioli, too.
* When sealing the ravioli, make sure that there are no air bubbles.