I believe you can read the stages of someone’s cooking based on pasta. Think about it. When you’re just starting out, making spaghetti probably involves dry pasta and a jar of sauce. As you progress, your next step is to make your own sauce. Then, you might start making your own pasta. The next stage, in my opinion, is making your own complicated pasta. Ravioli for example. This is generally not something that your average home cook attempts. But as you get more serious about cooking, it’s definitely something you want to try. Well, the Hubs and I reached this stage recently, and while it certainly is worth the trouble, I have to be honest: it IS trouble. They make ravioli look so easy on Iron Chef, but in real life it’s a whole situation. Make the filling, mix the pasta, roll it out, form the raviolis, cook the raviolis, make the sauce, and finally… devour. To quote the Hubs, “5 hours, 10 pots, pans, and plates used during the prep. Stand mixer, pasta roller, two burners and the oven. Consumed in under 10 mins, and I would do it all again.”
This is not easy, but it’s really good, and satisfying on a culinary level. Plus it’s just damn homey. I mean, it doesn’t get much more homey than braised meat inside pasta, covered with a rich, meaty mushroom sauce. A little fresh parmesan on top. This is living.
Short Rib Filling
2 lbs boneless short ribs
1 tsp olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 leek, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 cup dry red wine (I used merlot)
6 sprigs thyme, divided
4 cups beef broth
We got the idea for this recipe from the Busy in Brooklyn blog, but used Tyler Florence’s pasta recipe for the dough. Start this early in the day since it needs to cook for 3 hours before it’s ready to put in the ravioli. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat up your handy Dutch oven and drizzle in a little olive oil before searing the short ribs on all sides. Remove them from the pot and toss in the leek, garlic, carrot and celery. Saute for 5-7 minutes and then deglaze the pan with the red wine. Add the short ribs back into the pot and pour in the broth, 4 sprigs of thyme, and a little salt & pepper. Bring the pot to a boil, before covering and putting it in the oven for 3 hours at 300 degrees. Don’t forget to wrap a little foil around your lid handle to protect it.
After the meat has cooked for three hours, remove it from the pot and shred it, getting rid of the bones and any large fatty pieces. Use a sieve to strain the cooking liquid from the vegetables and add those to the meat. Remove and toss the sprigs of thyme. You’ll use the reserved cooking liquid for the sauce, so keep it. You can put it in the freezer for about twenty minutes to let the excess fat congeal, then skim it off. Or, if you are like me, you can get a $10 gadget that is made to separate fat from gravy and use that. It’s pretty magical. Either way, get rid of the fat and then set the liquid aside to use in the sauce.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 Tbsps water
1 yolk & 2 Tbsps water, for egg wash
Using your stand mixer with the dough hook, combine the flour and salt before adding the eggs one at a time. Continue to mix as you drizzle in the olive oil and then add a little water until the dough starts to form into a ball. Then sprinkle some flour on a work surface and knead the dough for a few minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Finally, wrap it in plastic and let it (and you) rest for about a half hour.
We cut the dough into fourths to form our noodles. Dust the counter and the dough with flour. You want to do this often to keep the dough from getting sticky. Roll it through the pasta machine on it’s widest setting a few times, then slowly reduce the setting, running the pasta through twice each time. Tyler’s directions said to go until the machine was on its lowest setting but we only went to 7 (ours goes to 9) and it was really thin. Use your judgment.
Lay out the sheet of pasta on the (floured) countertop and brush the surface with the egg wash. Put about a tablespoon of filling on half the pasta sheet in tight little piles two inches apart. Fold the other half of the past sheet over the top of the filling. Try to get the air out of the pockets around the filling and make a seal. May God help you with this because it was impossible for us. Finally, cut each pocket into squares using a crimper or plain old knife. These stick like crazy so if you are not cooking them immediately be sure to dust them in cornmeal or flour.
To cook the ravioli, get a big pot of salted water boiling and cook them a few at a time. They float to the top when they are done. Tyler’s instructions said to cook them 10-15 minutes, but I only had to cook mine about 4-6 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon. Make sure to have the sauce done and ready as soon as the raviolis are done because they get cool super fast.
2 large shallots, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chopped assorted mushrooms (I just used baby bella)
1 tbsp flour
To make the sauce (last part, promise), sauté the shallots and garlic for a few minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic. Then add in the mushrooms and cook over high heat until the liquid evaporates. Sprinkle in the flour and mix it in, sautéing until the mushrooms start to get some nice golden color. Then add in the cooking liquid, 2 sprigs of thyme, and a little salt and pepper. Cook a few more minutes until it reduces and thickens. Then pour it over the ravioli, grate a little fresh parmesan on top, and enjoy! The eating process is much quicker than the cooking process but very delicious.
We actually ended up making about 15 raviolis and using the rest of the dough to make noodles. Then we mixed the leftover meat into the mushroom sauce to top the noodles. This was also a delicious way to eat it, and practical since we had so much leftover meat.