Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Semi-Homemade Pork and Sage Ravioli

I believe I have mentioned once or twice that Italian food, other than my mom's tasty spaghetti, was not a part of our family menu as I grew up.  So I thought "I don't really like Italian food, except spaghetti".  But I was Very mistaken! As an adult, and now, an older adult, I have fallen in Love with Italian food, flavors, spices, and cheeses. So, as a novice, it is natural that I have wanted to make ravioli, one of the most fun foods to ever make.  

I had, originally, wanted to make my own dough and enjoy the processes of creating those delicious thin sheets of doughy goodness.  But time was a factor, so I went with the next best thing, store-bought spring roll wrappers.  I thought I had purchased small won ton wrappers, so when I discovered that I had purchased wrappers for the spring rolls, I cut them into fourths, which worked out great. 

Without further ado, here's my ravioli filling ingredients and "how-to".  

Starting Line-Up:

2-3 links of, or, a half pound of your favorite ground Italian sausage.  I used hot Italian sausage.  

2 cups of Ricotta cheese

6 - 10 fresh sage leaves, half of the leaves finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 white or yellow onion, finely chopped

6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped or shredded

2 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano 

1/4 cup shaved pecorino romano 

Salt and Pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil  (evoo)

In a large skillet, add two tablespoons of evoo over medium-high heat.  If the sausages are links, cut open the links and add the ground sausage to the skillet as the oil ripples. Cook the sausage for three minutes until a golden crust begins to form. Add the onion and the garlic to the sausage, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until the onions become translucent.  Remove the mixture from the heat and set aside.  

Meanwhile, add four quarts of water to a large pot and set on the stove for future use.  

On a granite counter top, or clean chopping block, lay out the won ton wrappers.  If you are using spring roll wraps, using a sharp culinary knife, cut the dough sheets in to fourths, equally.  Lay out the sheets, as many as you can, and note:  you will have to do this in batches, as you will probably make about 70 ravioli.  Have a bowl of water nearby, as you will use the water to seal your ravioli tips together before boiling. 

By this time, the sausage, onion and garlic, should be cooled. Add all of it, including the ricotta, the parmigiano-reggiano and half of the sage leaves, to your food processor (or blender).  Puree the mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.  Remove the mixture to a bowl and set by your wrappers station.  

I used a teaspoon to add to each ravioli square. I used my index finger to rub water around the four corners, and I folded the sheets to meet corner-to- corner diagonally, so each ravioli forms a triangle.  (See below)


 Place each batch of ravioli on a baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper and chill in the refrigerator or even the freezer to set.  

Now, this step can be done well before you start the ravioli, or, while they are chilling, and that is a marinara sauce.  I actually made three sauces:  a tomato-based marinara, a brown butter sage sauce, and a roasted red pepper and basil sauce.  I used the other half of my original onion, finely chopped, another clove of garlic, finely chopped, a 28-ounce can of San Marzano diced tomatoes, a couple of leaves of basil, finely chopped, salt and pepper, two teaspoons of white champagne vinegar, and pureed it in my food processor. I then heated up a sauce pan with a table spoon of evoo, over medium-low heat, allowing the flavors to marry

For the red pepper sauce, I added a half cup of buttermilk (I use buttermilk as opposed to heavy cream, as I like the tangy bite of buttermilk) to two fully roasted long red, sweet bell peppers, a pinch of salt and pepper, one garlic clove, finely chopped, basil and sage leaves, both to my food processor. I pureed those ingredients and heated the sauce through, same as in the previous paragraph, in a tablespoon of evoo in a skillet over medium-low heat. 

For my brown butter sage sauce, I added two tablespoons of Tuscan Butter (found in your local neighborhood grocery store) over medium-high heat, added chopped sage leaves, a small clove of garlic, finely chopped, and allowed it to foam, then brown.  So good!

Now, time to get the ravioli show on the road!

Bring the water the large pot to a boil.   When the water boils, add a good palm of salt.  Add the chilled ravioli, one at a time.  You do not want to crowd them, as they may stick together.  The salt helps them to not stick together, but keep them moving.  You will want to stir, so the triangles of pork, cheesy goodness will not stick to the bottom of the pot, either.  They have built-in "done" signals, as they usually float to the top when they are done. This only takes about three or so minutes.  Remove carefully and allow to strain.  

Plate nearly immediately and add whichever sauce makes you happy, top with fresh chopped basil or sage, grate or shave some pecorino romano or parm to the top, and serve!

What can you do with those ravioli that did not seal correctlyYes, you may have that problem.  I set them aside, chilled them, and fried them in evoo and small sage leaves, which I did not wish to discard.  They're quite crispy and tasty fried!

 I hope you try these and enjoy!