Monday, May 9, 2011
Asparagus and ricotta ravioli
More asparagus! I was in Miami and knew I wanted to cook something as soon as I got home. I checked out the farmers markets there as we were about to head north, and was underwhelmed.
But I was committed.
So I popped into Whole Foods and found nice asparagus and decided that I would break out the pasta roller.
I first made Mario's pasta recipe a few years ago, and since I hadn't made much pasta, I assumed I did something wrong when it didn't come out right. But I'm usually pretty honest with myself on such issues, and I felt confident I hadn't screwed up anything. So before making it this time, I studied the recipe, looking for what could have gone wrong. And I hit upon a variable:
The recipe calls for four eggs. My pasta dough was really hard and didn't want to roll. It needed more moisture. So, my theory was that Mario's eggs were bigger than mine. Believe me, I tried to find a different way to write that sentence, but that's just the way it's going to have to go into the permanent record.
So this time, I tried six eggs. Smooth as silk.
(I have since read, in the book Heat, that the recipe they use in the restaurant calls for eight yolks. I made all-yolk pasta once, from a Thomas Keller recipe, and I really didn't love it. It was fragile to roll, and tasted a bit like strands of souffle. I mean, it was good. I'd have it again. But it was a pain and not really worth the effort.)
So, I should probably just do a separate post on the pasta, but here's what happens:
Start with a mound of flour and form a well.
Add four eggs, or maybe six, and put them in the well. The walls of flour will act like a bowl. Start beating the eggs.
When the eggs are beaten, start incorporating flour from the mound into the eggs. This goes really well for about 10 seconds.
Then start chasing the eggs around the board, trying to recapture them in some modified form of flour mound after a wall breaks.
You'll have to excuse the fact that I have no photos of this happening. I was busy recapturing the eggs that were running around the board.
Eventually, all the eggs and flour will come together, and you knead it a little. Then let it rest. Or maybe you let you rest. That actually makes some sense at that point.
At this point, it is very easy to take its photo.
After it rests, it goes through the roller until long sheets are formed. Since I was making ravioli, I didn't have to cut the pasta. Woohoo.
It is hard to tell the scale from this photo, but I would estimate that this sheet of pasta is 17 miles long.
The filling is ricotta mixed with some blanched asparagus stalks.
A spoonful goes onto the pasta at regular intervals.
Then the pasta gets folded over.
Then it gets cut and sealed.
It's true, mine are not meticulous and beautiful. Oh well.
From there, the ravioli take a quick bath in boiling water, then get sauteed in butter with the tips of the asparagus. Actually, pretty easy. And I can't wait to make more pasta.
Up next: garden update