My grandmother was a first generation American Italian and between her and my mother I easily learned how to make “sauce” our families version of Bolognese. I picked up the recipe really quickly even though it’s never been written down and most likely never will.
Neither my grandmother nor my mother make homemade ravioli, so I had to learn without any help from the experts. I’ve learned a few things along the way and hope my insights can help others make these little pockets of heaven.
- Keep it simple: The best ravioli recipe has 4 ingredients; flour, egg, salt and extra virgin olive oil. I use two cups of flour (yes it has gluten and I don’t care!), 1 egg, a teaspoon of salt and drizzle of evoo. I use my Kitchenmaid mixer to blend the ingredients starting with the flour then egg, salt followed by adding the evoo a little at a time until the dough forms into a ball. Take the dough out and knead it a few times to make the ball soft and even then place it right back in the mixer bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temp. To really make the dough easy to work with I suggest you let it rest at least 20 mins at room temp then put it in the refrigerator overnight. Yep just walk away with a glass of red, watch some trash TV (Real Housewives of Atlanta is my favorite #RHOA) then head to bed just like the dough.
- Bigger isn’t better: The settings on the Kitchenaid pasta attachment has levels up to #8, I suggest running your dough through twice on each setting beginning with level 1 and at the most level 5. Never EVER go past level 5. Who the heck can work with past so thin that you can see through it? Houdini, David Copperfield, that guy on FaceBook that can read your mind? #smh. For ravioli level 5 is the biggest number you need especially for meat fillings which need the support of the pasta to hold firm and secure. Run each section through the attachment until desired thickness and then lay it on your ravioli maker with press.
- Hot mess warning: I’m a clean freak, my grandmother was a clean freak, my mother is a clean freak, my daughters are…well they are still young so it will catch up with them soon enough. For those other clean freaks out there with perfectly clean kitchens this is your warning; pasta makes a hot mess! Flour everywhere, dough crumbs all over, and egg wash in your hair. I wear my trusty apron which has an Italian feel with red and white checks and embroidery of a pig for those days I help my hubby BBQ. Grab your favorite apron and move everything away from the mixer and your working area. Once you begin rolling out the dough the stuff gets everywhere and on everything but dear Lord it is soooo worth the trouble!
- Ice Ice Baby: Yep I’m a product of the 80’s and while I hated that Vanilla Ice mixed in David Bowie’s Under Pressure beat into a rap top 40 riff, I can also admit that I like it, I like it a lot. Once you place your filling into each pocket and roll out the top layer to form each square ravioli you are ready to place them on ice. What?? Yep hubby suggested I try freezing them based on something he saw on one of those cooking shows, get them into a freezer for at least one hour. Now I know you’ve made homemade sauce (which if done correctly should have taken 3-4 hours to make), made pasta dough that had to go in the fridge overnight and now I’m asking you to hold off another hour? Yes I am aware that this is excruciating, all the waiting, the smelling of that sweet gravy (that’s what my grandfather called Bolognese sauce) the two days of prep, but that is what you will need to do for perfect ravioli. Trust me…give it a try. Then you can toss the ravioli into hot boiling water for just a few mins and serve them up with a full ladle or two of that magic sauce and some fresh basil from your garden!
- Labor of love: Do not go gently into that good “ravioli”? Sugar this is a labor of love! This is NOT as easy as it looks on those cooking shows. My family requests ravioli all the time however we typically only have it on special occasions; birthdays, holidays, or in last nights case a graduation celebration for our middle daughter. The entire process takes me two evenings so I suggest to you that you have the time it takes so you don’t get frustrated (I know from experience) and everything turns out perfectly. Enjoy the slow process of perfection and your loved ones will shower you with compliments and ensure no there aren’t any leftovers. What, wait a minute!Let me know if you give it a try.Mangiare, cheers!