I’ve been trying to write a single paragraph for what feels like an eternity (probably closer to 30 minutes) and it just hasn’t happened. I mean, it’s happened: words have been typed out – though only to be mercilessly scrutinized and subsequently deleted.
It’s simply too hard to focus in my house right now. My sister-in-law, “Tatty-pants” (not her real name) and her sister (also known as my wife, or “Matty-poo”), are listening to their favourite Serbian singer, Zeljko Joksimovic, and reliving memories of old while singing passionately. Actually, they’re listening to not only Balkan music, but also Italian, Spanish, English and Russian. Every once in a while they’ll play one that I’ve requested, or that I can at least understand.
It’s great to see them enjoying their short time with each other (Tatty-pants is out from the UK for a two-week Christmas/New Years visit), but the atmosphere in the living room doesn’t make for a great writing environment.
Though her visit has somewhat impeded me on the writing front, it has encouraged me in the kitchen. Knowing she has faithfully followed my blog this past year, I didn’t want to disappoint with a lacklustre meal. Thankfully, this dish did not disappoint.
Taking over three hours to put together, it’s not one for the faint of heart (or the short on time) – though it is, quite rightfully, a bit of a showstopper. Homemade stuffed pasta is always a very time-consuming endeavor, but I’m pretty sure the effort never goes unnoticed and unappreciated.
There was a sort of hype built up around her trying my cooking while on her visit, and I was afraid I somehow wouldn’t live up to the pictures she’s seen online. Thankfully, these little envelopes of meaty, cheesy goodness did not disappoint, being just as tasty as they are aesthetically pleasing. (That’s always the fear, that something will look good online, but suck in real life, isn’t it?)
Anyways, if you feel up to the challenge; if you feel the need to impress; if you’ve got time on your hands and a little bit of patience, then you should definitely try out this recipe. It may be a bit of work, but it’s well worth the reward.
Homemade Beef, Ricotta & Parmesan Ravioli with a Creamy Tomato Sauce
For the sauce:
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, shaved at a 45° angle (think short, think slices)
- 7 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 – 28 0z. can San Marzano tomatoes (with Basil)
- 3 tbsp. tomato paste
- 2/3 cup red wine
- leaves from two stalks Italian parsley (about 15-20)
- 1 cup cream (35% m.f.)
- 100 g. shaved/grated parmesan
- 1 tsp. sea salt (plus more to taste)
For the filling:
- 400 g. extra lean ground beef
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 3/4 tsp. sea salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/4 tsp. ground pepper (plus more to taste)
- 250 g. ricotta
- 30 g. shaved/grated parmesan (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 large egg, beaten
For the dough:
- 400 g. type 00 flour
- 4 large eggs
- egg wash (1 large egg mixed with 3 tbsp. water)
- Start by making the soup. In a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté the onion in olive oil – stirring occasionally – until it starts to turn translucent. Add the garlic and carrots and cook another minute or two, continuing to stir.
- Add in the tomatoes and red wine. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 35-40 minutes, uncovered.
- Toss in the parsley, then puree the sauce with an immersion blender while still over heat.
- Stir in the whipped cream and the parmesan. Add in the teaspoon of sea salt, carefully adding extra to taste, if desired. Set aside, covered, for later.
- While the sauce simmers, work on prepping the dough. In a large bowl, add the flour and make a well in the middle. Crack in the eggs and stir with a fork until the eggs are well-scrambled.
- Mix the egg with the flour until it is too difficult to do so. Then, using your hands, knead the dough in the bowl until all essentially all of the flour is absorbed into the dough.
- Take the dough from the bowl and knead on a clean counter for about 10-12 minutes, until the dough has a smooth consistency throughout.
- Form the dough into a disk, place is plastic wrap, and toss in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
- In a large frying pan or skillet, toss in the ground beef and minced onion. Break apart the meat with a wooden spoon and set the stovetop to medium heat.
- Season with salt and pepper and cook until all pink has been removed from the meat. Be sure to stir occasionally in this time and crumble the meat as it cooks.
- Once all the pink is removed and the beef is broken down significantly (think pea-sized pieces or smaller), remove this from heat and allow to cool on the skillet or pan for about 10 minutes.
- Once cooled, transfer the meat to a medium-sized mixing bowl and add in the parmesan and ricotta.
- Mix all these elements together and give it a taste. Stir in more salt and pepper to taste (1/2 tsp. salt and a pinch of pepper should be just about right).
- Add in the beaten egg and mix until well-incorporated.
- Set aside while you roll out your pasta.
- Working with a quarter of the dough at a time (keeping the other portion loosely wrapped in a damp cloth), roll out the dough into long, thin sheets using a pasta machine.
- From here, use a ravioli mould to form the ravioli. Lightly flour the mold. Lay sheets of pasta over the mould, brush anywhere you don’t have an indent with egg wash, then fill each indent with filling (so it’s level with the mould, not heaping). Lay a second sheet of pasta overtop, then use a rolling pin to seal the ravioli.
- Remove the ravioli from the mould, pull apart the individual ravioli along the cut seams (or use a pasta cutter if they aren’t coming apart easily), and place on a baking sheet that has been lightly floured.
- Repeat these steps until all dough and all filling is used up. Be sure to keep the scraps from cutting out the ravioli in case you need additional dough (gather together occasionally and store in the damp cloth as well). Ideally all the dough and filling will run out at roughly the same time.
Serving the ravioli:
- Cook the ravioli by simply placing in a pot filled with hot water for 3-4 minutes (at which time they will start to float).
- Use a colander to strain the ravioli (or remove with a slotted spoon). Place on a plate or bowl and pour the creamy tomato sauce overtop. Top with additional parmesan, if desired. Additionally, the ravioli can be made ahead of time placed in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve them. At that point, simply boil them as mentioned above, and reheat the sauce.