Spicy Ravioli with a Ricotta Filling

Ravioli Abruzzesi

There is a delicious combination of flavours in this recipe. The cloves used in the sauce marry very well with the cinnamon used in the filling. It makes a fabulous dish for special occasions such as weddings which, in the Abruzzi villages, are of prime importance! I can recall weddings in these parts where the feasting began at noon and ended at 8 p.m. at the earliest!

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 3 oz (75 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz (250 g) minced beef or pork or veal or rabbit
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves
  • 5 tablespoons dry red or white wine
  • 10 oz (275 g) canned tomatoes, drained, de-seeded and chopped or sieved
  • salt and pepper

For the filling

  • 12 oz (350 g) ricotta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, beaten

For the pasta

  • 12 oz (350 g) plain white flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • salt

To serve

  • oz (135 g) Parmesan cheese or a mixture of Parmesan and pecorino, grated

Method

First make the sauce. Melt the butter and fry the onion and the meat together until the onion is soft and the meat well browned, then add the garlic and the cloves, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Pour in the wine, raise the heat and evaporate the alcohol for 2–3 minutes, then add the tomatoes. Stir thoroughly together, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour.

Now make the filling. Mash the ricotta to a smooth consistency. Beat the sugar and cinnamon into the egg, then stir in the ricotta to make a creamy mixture. Set this to one side while you prepare the pasta.

Make the pasta dough as usual with the flour, 4 of the eggs and the salt. Roll the dough out into 2 very thin sheets of approximately equal size. Beat the remaining egg with 4 tablespoons water and brush 1 pasta sheet with this mixture. Place small lumps of the filling in neat, regular lines on this sheet of pasta, leaving equal spaces between each lump. Lay the second sheet of pasta on top and press down with the side of your hand in between each row of filling, in both directions. Then cut around each lump of filling with a inch (4 cm) pastry cutter or upturned wine glass. Press round the edges of each filled pasta pocket with the prongs of a fork to seal it carefully. Lay the ravioli on a tray, without overlapping, until required. Leave them to rest for 30 minutes.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Slide in the ravioli and cook them for about 6–7 minutes, or until they return to the surface. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and arrange them on individual warm plates. Spoon a little of the meat and tomato sauce over each portion and hand the grated cheese separately.

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