Beginner’s Mind: Homemade Ravioli
A while back, I was asked, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”
Oooo. Several months, and going from a step class to a step master class isn’t really all that … first-y.
And thus: Beginner’s Mind was born!
Beginner’s Mind will document my first-time attempts, complete with sidebars and photos and links and the occassional fumbling come-on.
And what says fumbling come-on quite like Italian Cooking?
BEGINNER’S MIND: HOMEMADE RAVIOLI.
- Surely it would be time consuming.
- The ingredients were probably expensive.
- I don’t want to be frying food any more.
- Seriously, I could get valuable work done instead of dicking around in the kitchen.
BUT! Armed with my newfound resolve, on Sunday, I found a recipe and went to town.
STEP ONE: FIND THE RECIPE
By which I mean, the recipe for dough. I’d already decided to fill the ravioli using chicken sausage cut into tiny pieces and pre-shredded cheese.
So I found a great recipe online, which I lost, Goddamit, but it’s cool, I can HANDLE this.
STEP TWO: FAKE THE RECIPE FROM MEMORY
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
What attracted me to this recipe was the friendly note, “If you don’t have a mixer with a dough hook …”
You can make a mound of flour and salt, form a well in the powdery mixture, and pour the eggs and one tablespoon of oil into the well. Use one hand to weild a dangerous, manly fork to beat the eggs into the flour, while the other hand protects the outer side of the wall.
I did fine with the dangerous and manly bit, but the protection?
I had egg and oil running out of the well like Hun saboteurs behind the Maginot Line within seconds.
STEP THREE: PANIC!
My first thoughts here were, “How could you be so STUPID and ARROGANT to think you could make pasta by HAND, Buddha CHRIST, clean this up! Feel terrible for days! Never speak of or order ravioli again! You will die alone and unloved!”
Because honestly, my brain is not my biggest fan.
My second thoughts were, “Look, shut the hell up, I am thinking goddammit. The eggs have absorbed enough flour to be moving slowly. I can probably mix the treacherous treacle into the flour if I tilt the board this way with my spare hand like a delicious pinball machine.”
Hey guess what? IT WORKED. Score, like, eighty for my stupidity and arrogance!
Strut strut strut strut in your FACE, Brain, in your nonexistent FACE.
I was left with crumbly, floury dough, and so I mixed in another egg. Maybe two. It’s a little fuzzy right now, but in the end it worked.
STEP FOUR: LET THE DOUGH REST ALREADY ITS NERVES ARE SHOT
To be fair it had been a hard ten minutes on all of us.
So I oiled the dough up, cooed over it, wrapped it in Saran and left it alone to go read for half an hour.
It was rather like one of my earlier relationships.
STEP FIVE: DID WE REALLY NEED TO KNOW THAT?
You can’t unsee it now.
Also, if you’re reading this, darling, sorry.
STEP SIX: ROLLING THE DOUGH
Now the recipe calls for a pasta machine with a rolling attachment. I’d bought the lovely missus a pasta machine two years ago for Christmas, but turns out it’s a Tubular Bells machine, more extruder than roller.
But I have a rolling pin and about one square foot of counter space in the kitchen. Surely I could get the dough “so thin you can see your hand through it.”
It took a lot more flour to keep the pin and board from sticking, and I realized quickly I had to move the dough around to keep it from sticking to the board. But in the end, I had a square foot of thin pasta dough.
STEP SEVEN: AN EGG WASH
You beat an egg with a tablespoon of water, then brush it over the dough. This acts as a glue.
Appetizing. But useful!
You should also put a pot of salted water on to boil right about now, or pay the penalty later on.
STEP EIGHT: FILLINGS
I cut the sausage – Trader Joe’s mild Italian fully cooked chicken sausage – into slices about a half inch thick. Then I took a pinch of shredded Quatro Formaggio cheese, laid it down on the sheet of pasta about two inches apart from each other.
This was only on half the pasta sheet, mind. Like setting up for a game of Stratego.
I topped the cheese with the sausage slice, and folded the pasta sheet over itself. You’re supposed to press out all the air pockets around the filling, which I did, poorly; but that’s not crucial until Step Ten.
The recipe called to cut around each of the filling pieces, then press pretty pretty patterns into the edges with the tines of a fork. What am I, middle class? NO.
I used the ravioli cutters alluded to above, like a pasta making champion. I did notice if you kind of wiggle the cutter side to side, it cuts the dough more effectively, so I turned on the Reverend Horton Heat’s “Wiggle Stick” and poured another glass of wine.
You then want to dust the ravioli with cornmeal, to prevent sticking, and set it aside.
STEP NINE: THAT IS A LOT OF WASTED DOUGH AND WOW I AM A CHEAP BASTARD
All that dough made about 16 ravioli. Which is, to be fair, three to four servings. But there was a LOT of wasted dough.
I tried to re-roll it out but between the excess flour and egg wash it was just too stiff, so I wound up tossing it.
When I do this again, I’ll do it at the dining room table, where I have more room than my kitchen counters. I could have cut a lot more ravioli out of a wider, thinner sheet, and wasted less dough. You should do the same.
STEP TEN: BOIL BOIL TROUBLE AND YES GOD THEY KNOW YOU WERE IN THEATRE STOP IT
The ravioli can now go into the boiling pot of water to be cooked. Since I used pre-cooked chicken sausage, four minutes is sufficient.
The recipe says the ravioli, once done, will float to the surface of the water. This relies on your being a lot better than me at elminating the air pockets in Step Eight. All of mine were bobbing like an insecure fraternity pledge the moment I dipped them in the water.
Note to self: Seriously, your mother reads this. Edit that out.
Note to Note to self: Don’t google “sluttiest fraternities” on a work computer.
Actually, don’t google “sluttiest fraternities” at all.
STEP ELEVEN: THE FRUITS OF YOUR LABOR
They turned out really well in the end!
The dough was a little thicker and more overdone than the ideal – the amount of work to get it so thin, I think, toughened it up some. And the sausage isn’t great, but it’s easy; and the main thrust of this was to get the dough and assemblage down. I mixed them with some Trader Joe’s Arrabiatta Sauce and they made three nice meals for me!
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