Truffled Sweetbread Ravioli

Any pasta shape that can be stuffed can be used here, especially if you are not up to making ravioli or tortelli. Truffles are not mandatory, for while they make this dish breathtaking, it is delicious without them. If you cannot stand the idea of brains, don’t worry: They are superb here, and you can’t see them. I invented this dish for Gerald Asher’s birthday party at the Santa Fe Bar & Grill, and everyone approved, though knowing what was in the ravioli.

I like to make large shapes and serve two or three only. Buy sheets of fresh pasta dough if you do not have a pasta machine. Be ready: This is a lot of work— but worth it.

Ingredients

  • 4 calf brains
  • 2 cups court bouillon
  • 4 pairs veal sweetbreads
  • ¼ cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon leaves
  • 1 ounce fresh black truffle, finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 recipe pasta dough (or 2 pounds bought fresh pasta sheets)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds combined fresh wild and domestic mushrooms, sliced
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Method

Soak the brains in salted cold water to cover for 1 hour. Peel off the membrane and poach in the court bouillon for 10 minutes. Drain, puree in a food processor, and press the puree through a sieve.

Braise the sweetbreads as directed in the recipe. Strain the sweetbread braising liquid and reduce to 2 cups. Pull the sweetbreads apart into almond-size nuggets. Discard any membrane; puree and sieve a quarter of the sweetbreads. Add the sweetbread puree, cream, tarragon, truffle, and salt and pepper to taste to the brain puree and mix well.

Divide the pasta dough in 4 equal portions and roll each out into a sheet approximately 4 inches by 16 inches long and as thin as it can be and still be handled. Cover the sheets with a towel as you roll them to prevent them from drying out.

Beat the eggs together and have a small brush on hand. Using 1 tablespoon of filling for each ravioli, make 1 row of mounds 2 inches apart along one side of the pasta sheet. Brush the other side lightly with the egg mixture and fold it over the mounds, pressing down with your fingers between and around the mounds to make sure the edges are tightly sealed; cut the ravioli with a pasta cutter or a knife, leaving a ½-inch border on all sides.

Bring a large flat pot of salted water to a boil.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a sauté pan. Put the mushrooms in the pan and toss them in the butter. Add the salt and pepper to taste, garlic, and thyme. Cook for 2 minutes and add the reduced braising liquid. Cook over high heat another 5 minutes. Add the sweetbreads and remaining butter and stir until the butter is incorporated.

Meanwhile, put the ravioli carefully into the boiling water and barely simmer until the pasta is tender, about 5 minutes. Lift the ravioli out of the water, drain a few seconds on a towel, and put them on plates. Spoon the mushroom-sweetbread sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with the parsley.

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