We were intrigued by, of all people, Giada De Laurentiis whipping up a turkey-cranberry stuffed ravioli on a recent segment. Now, while I am a bigtime tinkerer with recipes, there are some things I generally consider sacrosanct. The very notion of this peculiar fusion of Italian and American classics is not normally my milieu, but something about it piqued our interest.
Blasphemy of blasphemies, Giada used wonton wrappers for her ravioli. I understand the convenience, but I just can't abide by this practice. Fortified by Wednesday's pasta-making efforts, plus benefitting from both a full day with which to do it as well as an entire extra pair of hands while my mother was still in town, we jumped at the opportunity.
This second crack at the same recipe from the Williams-Sonoma Mastering Pasta book fared at least as well as the first. The dough was firm, pliable and just slightly on the wet side, all the better for the incorporation of flour while kneading and rolling.
In the interest of making cuter, more uniform pasta, we invested in a set of nesting ring molds and a pasta crimper. This makes it far, far easier than layering entire sheets of paste upon each other and cutting it down.
The ravioli are kind of a wry twist on Thanksgiving dinner -- ground turkey, cranberry sauce, bread crumbs inside the pasta, smothered in a straight-up milk gravy. And you know what? They were pretty damn good. We just might repeat the experience on Turkey day proper.
I won't repeat the recipe for the filling, cuz you can read it here. But the recipe for the pasta dough -- with pictures! -- follow after the jump.
Fresh egg pasta dough
adapted from Williams-Sonoma Mastering Pasta
As with baking, it's better to weigh your flour rather than measure by volume.
12.5 oz/390 g. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
4 large eggs
2 tsp olive oil
Add 2 c. of the flour to a food processor with a dough blade (the dough blade is dull on all sides; the standard blade would simply obliterate your dough). Add the eggs and oil. Process until the mixture is moist and crumbly, about 10 seconds. If the dough seems overly sticky, add the reserved flour one tablespoon at a time until it comes together. The dough should be cohesive yet still a little wet but not sticky.
Dust a wooden cutting board with flour. Place the dough ball in the center of the work surface. Knead the dough by gently holding down the side closest to you and pushing the opposite end away from you. Fold it back over itself, rotate 90 degress, and repeat, kneading and folding the dough, for a couple of minutes, until the dough is uniformly yellow and takes on a firm yet silky texture. If the dough sticks to the board or your hands, work in flour in small amounts as you knead.
Roll the dough into a ball, cover with an overturned bowl and let rest for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into quarters. Roll each quarter into a smaller ball and leave three under the overturned bowl while you work the first bit. Dust your hands and the pasta machine rollers with flour, and pat the dough ball into a flat round. With the pasta machine setting on 1, roll the ball through. Fold the rolled dough in thirds, folding the outer thirds in toward the center (like a letter), lightly dusting the exposed sides with flour.
You'll have two edges with a smooth, folded edge and two where you can see the pasta folded upon itself. Position one of the exposed edges toward the rollers of the pasta machine and roll through again on setting 1. By keeping the folded edge of the dough perpendicular to the rollers you will create a more regular, rectangular shape. Continue doing this, folding and kneading on the first setting, always turning the exposed edge to the rollers, dusting the face of the pasta with flour if it begins to stick, 8-10 times or until the pasta is smooth and satiny. If the pasta is sticky or bumpy on the facade, it's still not fully kneaded. Still, be gentle with the amount of flour you add. If you overflour, the resulting dough will be too dry and brittle, and it'll come back to haunt you later.
You can knead all your dough balls at once and come back to roll them out, or go through the entire rolling process for each dough ball individually. If you knead all the dough, be sure to keep the kneaded dough under a towel or an overturned bowl or half-sheet pan to keep from drying out.
Roll the dough, decreasing the thickness on the pasta machine with each pass. Don't pull the dough through -- let the rollers do the work. As the pasta sheets get longer, you may want to cut them down for easier handling. For standard pasta, such as linguine or tagliatelle, a thickness of 6 or 7 should be sufficient. For ravioli, since you will be stacking two layers together, 7 or 8 is preferable. 6 is fine for lasagne. Again, keep finished sheets under a towel to prevent drying.
Lay one round on a work surface and add one tablespoon of the filling in the center. With a brush or your fingers, wet the edges of the round with water or an egg wash, then lay another round over the top. Press the sides together, gently squeezing out any excess air in the filling. Use the pasta crimper to cut purty edges on the final parcel.
Transfer the finished ravioli to a half-sheet pan dusted with flour. Once all the ravioli are complete, move the pans to the freezer and leave to firm up at least an hour. Keep frozen until ready to cook.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Gently place your ravioli in a large spider or slotted spoon and lower them into the water. When all the ravioli have risen to the top and are opaque and white, remove them with the same spider or spoon. Lay a bed of sauce in a large pasta bowl, then a layer of the ravioli, repeating until all the ravioli have been removed from the water and are dressed. Alternatively, plate directly and lay sauce over the top. Serve immediately.