Part 3, AKA How to Enjoy Your Own Cooking

September 10, 2010 § 1 Comment

I find it really quite difficult to enjoy food I spent the whole day cooking and I would wager that I’m not the only one. Isn’t that precisely why a chef is more likely to rustle up a plate of beans on toast after a shift than a beautifully complex guinea hen roulade? When you have tasted just about every component of a dish at multiple stages, it can be hard to get beyond those flavour memories and appreciate the same dish as part of a meal rather than kitchen experience. This ravioli recipe certainly runs these risks but fortunately there are two ways you can help yourself out.

First of all, ideally you should begin the stage of rolling out the pasta and putting the ravioli together on a fresh day. Not always practical I know, but coming to the fiddly assembly with a clear mind will definitely help both with the process and the enjoyment. But secondly, and here’s the real trick, these ravioli cook perfectly from frozen. You can make them well in advance and on the day itself all you will need to do is heat a pan of water, add the pasta, and melt sage leaves in butter for a sauce during the 5 minutes the pasta will take to cook. Not only can you enjoy the dish as though someone else had cooked it for you, you can do it wearing three inch heels if you so wish, and look unflappable while your guests are cooing over the effortful flavours and effortless delivery.

‘Rosalba’s Ravioli’ adapted from Antonio Carluccio’s Italian Feast

The quantities listed below, as I said earlier, are very much a guide. Don’t feel the need to stick to them exactly to the letter if you have slightly more meat or whatever. I would, however, recommend that you not skimp on the parmesan.

8oz/225g leftover pork
7oz/200g braised cabbage
3oz/75g parmesan, finely grated, plus more to garnish
1 egg
salt and black pepper

to finish:
unsalted butter
sage leaves
black pepper

In batches, coarsely grind pieces of the pork, along with the leftover onion mixture, in a food processor. Put into a large bowl as you go. With all the pork ground, put the braised cabbage in the food processor and again pulse until coarsely ground. You want the size of the pieces to resemble large breadcrumbs. Add the cabbage to the bowl containing the pork, stir in half the parmesan and season pretty generously with salt and pepper. Once you’ve tasted for seasoning, add the egg which will bind the mix. Cover and leave to one side for the time being. Prepare an egg wash by beating an egg in a small bowl and lay out a ravioli cutter if you have one and a pastry brush. It will also help to have a baking sheet to hand if you want to freeze the ravioli.

Roll out the first piece of the pasta dough as per the instructions in part 2. Dust a long counterspace with flour, split the rolled sheet of pasta in two and lay the pieces flat. Working quickly, take the first piece and brush with egg wash. Take small balls of the filling (be careful not to take too much – a teaspoon is about right) and place at 1 inch intervals along one side of the pasta sheet. Fold the sheet so that it lightly covers the filling and use your fingertips to seal the pasta around each ball, making sure you work any air bubbles out from around the filling as you go. Once the sheet is secured around the filling you can take a ravioli cutter of whatever kind you use, and stamp out the pieces, or use a sharp knife to cut around the filling. Having tried it both ways, a simple ravioli stamp comes out as a good investment.

Repeat with the remaining half of the sheet. If you want to freeze the ravioli, lay them out flat on a baking sheet at this point, not touching, and place in the freezer until they are solid enough to put in a tub or ziploc bag.

You will now repeat this entire procedure with the second half of the first ball, and finally with first one half, then the other, of the second ball. (I highly recommend queuing up some good music before you get going on this whole endeavour.) You will end up with over 100 ravioli (depending of course on the size of your cutter).

When you are ready to eat the ravioli, bring a large pot of water to the boil and salt it generously. Add the pasta. Whether you cook them from fresh or frozen, they are ready when the water has returned to a full boil and the ravioli float. This takes about 2-3 minutes from fresh and about 4-5 from frozen in my experience. When you add the pasta to the water, take a good lump of butter and melt in a saute pan along with a handful of sage leaves. Remove the cooked pasta from the water with a slotted spoon straight into the pan with the butter and sage. Toss gently and add the rest of the parmesan and a few good twists of black pepper. Serve immediately, adding extra parmesan and black pepper to the top of the pasta, and revel in your achievement!


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