This is my 50th post here on Pomato Revival, so I’m celebrating with something fancy! It’s a holiday of sorts, and in our family, holidays don’t begin until there are fresh ravioli in the house. We’ve never been crazy enough to make them ourselves, mind you. The tradition goes that my grandparents make a pilgrimage to Pastosa on New Utrecht Ave. and show up with boxes of fresh ricotta ravioli. Their entrance is always an event, with loaves of bread poking out from under my grandmother’s arm, my grandfather right behind her with the ravioli boxes and an inappropriate amount of mortadella and prosciutto—just enough to ruin everyone’s appetite for dinner.
A stir of energy takes over after their arrival. Boxes get unwrapped and stacked. The bread knife emerges and crumbs start flying. Olives and cheese hit the table courtesy of my dad’s indefinite stash. Talk of Verrazano Bridge traffic goes on as we attack the antipasti spread. My mom gets the giant pot of water boiling for the ravioli. And all is right in the world.
Considering what a fuss we make over ravioli, I decided it’s time I learn how to make them. Turns out, they’re pretty easy if you have several hours to kill and infinite patience. I had neither, but it’s amazing what you can get done when the rest of the world is sleeping. Once you get the hang of making the little pods you start to feel invincible in the kitchen. It’s a case of I-didn’t-know-I-could-actually-make-this-from-scratch…. You realize you’re capable of much more than you’d thought.
My recipe uses wild boar simply because I had some and didn’t know what to do with it. You can use anything you want in your filling. Next time, I’m thinking of going all cheese, Pastosa-style. I’d even suggest making these for our next holiday, but I really live for those electric, ravioli-clad entrances. As great as these are, they have nothing on my grandparents’ excitement.
Wild Boar Ravioli
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
1 D’Artagnan Wild Boar Tenderloin
¼ white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup olive oil, plus more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
16 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons water
Pasta dough roller; round ravioli cutter, cookie cutter, or the metal lid of a small-mouth Mason jar (my tool of choice); stand mixer (optional)
Make the Pasta Dough:
Pour flour onto a large wood cutting board or other clean surface to create a small mountain.
Create a well in the center and add the salt, then eggs, one at a time, gently beating them with a fork. Be careful not to let the eggs break through the outer walls of the well (like I did), but don’t stress if they do. Your only problem will be the mess that it makes. The dough will be fine.
Add the water and continue mixing, gently folding in flour from the well’s inner walls until a sticky dough forms. Switch to hand kneading when a good amount of flour is incorporated. Continue kneading for 8 to 10 minutes, adding small amounts of water if needed. The final dough should be firm and elastic, not sticky.
OR: Skip this mess and throw everything into a stand mixer. Knead with a dough hook for about 8 minutes after the ingredients are combined.
Form the dough into a ball and let sit, covered, for 1 hour to allow the glutens to relax (this will make rolling easier).
While the dough rests, prepare the filling.
Cut the wild boar (or whatever meat you’re using) into chunks small enough to fit into a food processor’s cup. Chop until finely ground.In a large skillet, heat the garlic, onions, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until the onions begin to soften. Add the ground boar and sautee until just cooked (try not to let it dry out). Let cool and transfer back to the food processor, including the liquid from the pan. Chop until smooth.
Transfer the boar mixture to a large bowl. Add the ricotta, ¼ cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix until combined, adding more oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Roll the Pasta Dough:
Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and flatten each into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Cover any dough that you’re not using.
Set your pasta roller to its widest setting. Lightly dust one rectangle with flour and feed through the rollers. Fold the rolled dough in half and feed it back into the rollers, folded end down.
Continue 4 or 5 times then adjust to the next, narrower setting. Feed the dough through twice, but don’t fold it this time. Keep adjusting the roller until you reach the narrowest setting, feeding the dough through once at each setting. Be careful not to let the dough touch the roller’s edge since it may pick up grease from the mechanics. It’s not terrible if it does—just make sure to trim the edges. You’ll end up with a thin, smooth sheet of dough, about 24 inches long and 5 inches wide.
Transfer to a floured surface and cut in half to make two 12-inch sheets. Set one aside. Drop teaspoonfuls of filling about 1 ½ inches apart to create a row in the center of the sheet. Brush the surrounding area with egg wash.
Cut around each mound with a ravioli cutter or Mason jar lid, leaving about a 1/4-inch border around each mound.
You can eat these immediately by boiling for 2 to 3 minutes and then mixing with the pasta sauce of your choice. Uncooked ravioli will store for about 1 day in the refrigerator. Store in a flat container and dust very generously with corn meal. If you’re stacking them, separate each level with parchment paper and make sure there’s enough corn meal between the pasta and the paper. They’re best stored in a cardboard box or other container that doesn’t retain moisture. Believe me, you don’t want to learn the hard way that these suckers stick to each other very, very easily. Storing them in a plastic container is the kiss of death, especially if they’re not entirely coated in corn meal. Flour will not keep them from sticking. Please. Trust. Me.