Friday, December 3, 2010

T is for Toasted Ravioli or I is for Iron Foodie Contest Recipe

Ok, Tech Week almost done, deadline looming, here, finally, is The Recipe.

(Here's Marx Food's Iron Foodie Contest explained, in case you're just now tuning in.)

Toasted Ravioli is a local specialty in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri and is very hard to find elsewhere. In fact, most people who haven't spent time in StL have never even heard of it. This is their bad luck, because it's very very very good. How good? The only hometown food I miss more is White Castle.

Since, as I mentioned earlier, I was already thinking in an Italian/meat-ward direction, Toasted Ravioli was a most acceptable brain wave. As usual, I hit the internet for some recipe theory research, and found some useful stuff.

In fact, I did a sort of proof of concept experiment as a Thanksgiving appetizer. It was definitely well received. But I decided Iron Foodie deserved no less than true, complete insanity. So, I made mine from scratch. Research debts also in the direction of Cooks dot com and Betty Crocker's New Cookbook (the 1st cookbook I owned as an adult).

What I Did:

~ Pasta ~
1/3 cup of macerated Dulse Seaweed*
2 large eggs
1 TBLSP olive oil
1/2 tsn Smoked Salt*
2+ cups flour

0) Soak the seaweed in boiling water for 15 minutes (this is macerating. big word, simple concept.)

1) Combine eggs, seaweed, oil and salt in a food processor until blended.

2) Put the flour on a decent sized flat surface and create a well in the middle (a sort of volcano shaped thing; the crater is to hold the liquid.)

3) Slowly work the flour into the liquid until completely combined. (This gets messy. No worries.)

4) At this point you will most likely have to adjust your pasta dough. If it is too dry (crumbly, not sticking together, i.e., what happened to me), gradually incorporate little bits of liquid (TBLSP at a time) until you achieve a nice dough consistency. If it is too sticky, gradually incorporate bits of flour.

5) Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 5-8 minutes.

6) Plastic wrap the dough and rest in the fridge for several hours.

~ Filling ~
1 cup cubed squash
2 TBLSP olive oil
1 lb. ground pork
1/2 tsp Smoked Salt*
1/2 tsp ground Tellicherry Peppercorns*
1/3 of a medium sized onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh sage
2 TBLSP fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, SMASHED!
1/4 cup white wine
1/3 cup macerated Dried Wild Porcini Mushrooms*
1/2 cup cottage cheese

7) Parboil squash

8) Cook oil, pork, salt and pepper in a skillet over medium heat until pork is thoroughly cooked.

9) Add all other Filling ingredients (except cottage cheese) to skillet, cover and reduce heat to low; stir occasionally.

10) Cut one third off of the chilled pasta dough.

11) Roll it through a pasta machine on the widest setting. (If you don't have a pasta machine, use a rolling pin and skip ahead to step 15.)

12) Fold the pasta sheet in on itself from the ends, roughly into thirds. Sprinkle lightly with flour. The idea is to get it to a width where you can turn it 90 degrees and run in through the pasta machine again.

13) Click the pasta machine down one setting and run the pasta sheet through again.

14) Repeat 13 until you get the pasta as thin as you want it. (For me, this takes it down to the narrowest setting. So you can read through the pasta. Your taste may absolutely vary.)

15) Turn the heat off on the filling.

16) Lay the pasta sheet out on waxed paper. Cut pasta circles out of it with an upside down glass. (There are other ravioli cutting methods, but this one best appeals to my innate sense of laziness.)

17) Add filling and cottage cheese to food processor. Pulse for about 20 seconds, until everything is just combined.

18) Spoon small heaps of filling on one pasta circle.

19) Wet the entire edge of the circle (use water, butter, milk, whatever really…..I used the water from macerating the Porcini Mushrooms).

20) Place a second circle on top, and gently press edges together all the way around.
***It's right about here that this becomes the longest recipe I've ever done on this blog. HUZZAH FOR IRON FOODIENESS!***

~ Sauce ~
1 macerated Aji Panca Chili*
1/2 heavy whipping cream
1 clove garlic SMASHED!
1 can tomato sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil

21) Slice open the chili and scrape out the seeds and membranes.

22) Chop chili and add it, garlic and cream to a small sauce pan. Warm over low heat.

23) Just as the cream wants to try boiling, turn off the heat.

24) Dump saucepan contents into food processor. Blend until completely mixed.

25) Return sauce to pan. Add tomato sauce, oregano and basil and warm over low heat, stirring occasionally.

~ Toasted…ing…ness…stuff... ~
1 egg
3 TBLSP heavy whipping cream
2 cups stuffing cubes
~ 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
oil for frying

26) Fill a skillet with oil for frying (I like to go about 1/2 inch deep. You do what suits you.) and warm over medium heat.

27) Use a fork to mix together eggs and cream in a bowl.

28) Put the stuffing cubes and cheese into food processor and mix until the cubes are crumbs. Place in a bowl or on a small plate.

29) Dip ravioli in the egg mixture, shake off excess.

30) Dip eggy ravioli in crumbs, shake off excess.

31) Place ravioli in skillet. Fry 3-4 minutes per side.

32) Put fried raviolis on a paper towel-lined plate.

33) Serve ravioli with sauce. Eat. Enjoy!

How Did It Go?
It went surprisingly well, given the large number of new things i was trying (ingredients and techniques), and considering that I've not made scratch ravioli in a long long time. Texture was right on, flavor was pretty nice. Mostly a win here.
- The seaweed gave a really neat color to the pasta dough.
- The mushrooms rounded out the taste of the pork in a way that surprised me.
- The chili sauce wound up being not too hot for me, which is something of a miracle, frankly. And not being in pain, i was able to appreciate the flavor.

What Would I Do Differently?
- More filling! I put about a teaspoon's worth of filling in each ravioli, which wound up being not quite enough. The pasta to filling ratio was too high, which buried a lot of the flavor of the filling when everything was put together. Lacked balance.

- More vegetables! I think I'd up the butternut squash ratio a bit, just to get more vitamins involved. I mean, since you're eating something fried, it's nice to strike a blow for Stealth Health when you can.


  1. Looks like a great opener to a celebratory meal! Thanks for participating and best of luck in the polls!

  2. Thanks Leftover Queen (all hail)! It worked really well as a dinner too. Thanks for the contest; i had a blast.