Thus as it is Friday today and traditionally calls for a nicer dinner to start off the week-end, I decided to give this dish a go.
Reading back in the blog, it's been almost two years since I made ravioli and I'd forgotten that it is quite time consuming to make "free hand".
I read through a few recipes, before working out my own thing - they all called for ricotta and parmesan and that is out of the question in our household. When I mentioned to Lundulph that I would use mascarpone instead, he got a bit upset, as he associates this with tiramisu and desserts in general. I tried to explain that mascarpone is fairly neutral in flavour and can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes, but he didn't agree. Not that this stopped me, I'd already bought it.
250 g mascarpone
20 g spinach, weight after wilting and thoroughly draining the liquid
1.5 tbsp finely cut chives
1.5 tbsp finely cut parsley
1 tsp dried dill
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp ground black pepper
250 g pasta flour
1 egg for sealing
2 tbsp water for sealing
6 egg yolks
6 rashers of streaky bacon
3 dl peas
50 g unsalted butter
- Starting with the cheese filling, if using fresh spinach, steam for a few minutes to wilt it, chop finely and place in a piece of cheese cloth and squeeze out as much as possible of its liquid. If using frozen spinach, thaw it and squeeze out the liquid with a cheese cloth.
- Stir together all the ingredients for the cheese filling, then transfer to a piping bag (but don't cut the tip), tie it up and place in the fridge.
- Make the pasta dough by mixing together the pasta flour and 3 eggs. If it's not coming together, crack the egg for the sealing and take a teaspoon or two from the white. Knead for a few minutes until it stops sticking and feels pliable. Cover with cling film and let rest for 15 - 20 minutes.
- Add 2 tbsp water to the egg for sealing and stir together.
- Heat up a frying pan. Cut the streaky bacon into small pieces and fry it for a few minutes. Remove onto kitchen tissue. Keep the frying pan nearby, but discard some of the bacon fat, if it's too much.
- Divide the dough into smaller pieces. Roll out one at a time, while keeping the others wrapped up. Try to use as little additional flour as possible and roll out as thinly as possible.
- Take the cheese filling out of the fridge and cut the tip to get a 1 cm diameter hole.
- Using a large cookie cutter, 9 - 10 cm diameter, cut out a round near the edge of the rolled out dough. Then pipe a circle of the filling, about 3 cm diameter. Pipe a second circle on top of the first one and a third one on top of the second one. This forms a cup for the egg yolk.
- Carefully separate a yolk and pour it into the "cup" of cheese filling, taking care not to break the yolk.
- Brush the dough outside the cheese "cup" with the egg wash, then using the remaining piece of the rolled out dough, carefully cover the yolk and cheese filling and press down to seal with the bottom layer. Then cut the top layer with the round cutter, matching the edges of the bottom layer.
- Repeat with the remaining five yolks.
- When the ravioli are ready, fill a large pot with two-thirds water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.
- In a smaller pot, steam the peas.
- Heat up the frying pan again and add the butter. Let it bubble and go lightly brown, then take off the heat.
- Carefully drop two or three ravioli into the large pan with boiling water and cook for no more than 3 minutes.
- Take out the ravioli with a slotted spoon and place on the serving plates. Sprinkle some of the bacon and peas over and drizzle a little of the browned butter and serve immediately.
The steps are many and may seem complicated, but there are lost of videos on YouTube on how to make them.
There are a lot of things to do at the last minute, but it was well worth it. Once you cut into the ravioli, the yolk runs out and makes everything wonderfully creamy. The Mascarpone also melted during the cooking, I'm not sure if this would happen if using ricotta and parmesan.
I had a spot of luck with the bacon - the packet I got was very different from the others - the fat layer was missing completely from the rashers, like it had been removed before the bacon was sliced and packaged. This meant that there was no fat to throw away after the bacon had been fried and very little needed to be drained off on the kitchen towel. All the other packets in the shop looked "normal", so I guess it was not intentional, but in the future, it might be worth removing the fatty rind before cooking the bacon.
I had planned to have one raviolo for me and two for Lundulph, but he liked it so much, he had a third one. On the whole, I think this dish would be good as a starter.
I could have continued making the ravioli, I had a couple of eggs to spare, but my arms were a bit tired from re-rolling the pasta dough. I wasn't really sure how the construction of the ravioli would go and ended up with a lot of off cuts. In hindsight, I should have just cut them in strips and set them aside to dry out.
But instead I tried to get some pliability back into the off cuts by adding droplets of the egg wash. It didn't help much and a couple of my ravioli ended up a bit thicker and chewier than intended. The trick is to roll each piece of dough to a rather oblong shape, just wider than the cookie cutter and slightly longer than double the cookie cutter diameter, that should reduce the off cuts substantially. I think.
I also ended up pressing the edges with the tip of a fork, just to be on the safe side, as I made the first cheese "cup" a bit too small for the egg yolk and as I tried to get it to sink in, I punctured it and it ran out. I rescued it though. That's why it's better to do each raviolo one at a time, if something goes wrong, it's less stressful to deal with it, rather than also worry about the other ravioli in progress.
Timing-wise, I started at 4 o'clock and was ready as Lundulph wandered in through the door at quarter to seven. However, I noticed that once the ravioli are assembled, they stay that way quite happily on the side. So they could be done in advance, perhaps up to a day, and kept in the fridge.
The six ravioli used up about two thirds of the pasta dough, so I'm using this opportunity to freeze the remainder and see what happens. I also used about half of the cheese filling and I've wrapped it up air tight in a plastic bag and will need to think of a way to use it up. A further issue is also that I how have 6 egg whites to deal with, along with a lot of the egg wash. Hmmmm...