Ravioli of Leeks and Truffles

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This is one of the most perfect pasta dishes I know. It is assumed that you have already made pasta (the recipe for which is) and there is no point in trying to make this without a pasta machine.

Black truffles are expensive but a little goes a long way in this recipe and you will have made enough truffle butter to freeze for another day (truffles freeze extremely well). Truffle butter also keeps in the freezer and makes a real treat stirred into a risotto, to dress pappardelle, melted into the gravy for a roast chicken or roast beef or with new potatoes. Or, try it spread on bridge rolls for tea as they do in Italy. Use the remaining port stock to enrich any other stock.

You may have some ravioli left over (allowing 4 for a first-eourse serving). Simply blanch briefly in boiling water, strain through a colander and when cold, freeze them in a bag.

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Ingredients

  • 225g/8oz butter
  • 55g/2oz black truffle
  • 300ml/½pt non-vintage port
  • 4tbsp Veal or Chicken Stock
  • handful of flat leaf parsley
  • 2 large or 4 small leeks
  • 500g/1lb 2oz Rich Pasta Dough
  • semolina flour, for dusting
  • salt and pepper

Utensils

  • small saucepan
  • 2 bowls
  • pasta machine
  • large saucepan
  • frying pan
  • pastry wheel or pasta cutter
  • colander
  • large sauté pan

Method

Mise en Place

Make the truffle butter, well ahead, take the butter out of the fridge to allow it to soften. Scrub the truffle(s), then put with the port in a small saucepan. Add the stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Then lower the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the truffle(s) to cool in the liquid • As soon as they are cool enough to handle, remove the truffle(s) from the port and peel carefully, taking off as little of the surface as possible. Return the peeled truffle(s) to the port • Put the truffle peelings and parsley leaves on a board and chop all together finely with a large knife. Season well. Put 170g/6oz of the butter into a bowl with the chopped ingredients and mix thoroughly with a fork.

Wash and trim the leeks: you want some green but not too much. Then cut into thin rounds. Rinse again • Make the Rich Pasta Dough as described • Put a large pan of salted water on to heat for cooking the ravioli.

Make the ravioli filling: drain the leeks and put to sweat in a frying pan over a low heat with the remaining butter until you have a well-cooked - but not browned -compote. Transfer to a bowl and slice in the truffle(s) as thinly as you can, reserving the port stock. Season with salt and pepper and mix together with a fork.

Make the ravioli: clear the kitchen table, attach the pasta machine at the right-hand end (or left-hand if you are left-handed) and dust the table liberally with flour. Divide the pasta dough into 4 pieces and roll each out to the thinnest setting. When the sheet size starts to become unmanageable, simply cut in 2 • Dot I sheet with teaspoonfuls of the filling. Brush between the fillings with a little water, then cover with the second sheet, pressing down firmly to seal the pasta sheets together between the filled pouches. You should just be able to run a finger down the grid lines created. Do so to squeeze out any air • Run a pastry wheel or pasta cutter along these lines to cut the sheet into individual ravioli about 5cm/2in square • Repeat with the other 2 sheets of pasta and the remaining filling • Remove all the dough trimmings, compact them into a ball and reserve to make into tagliatelle or pappardelle some other day • Check the seal on each ravioli, pressing down firmly around the edges. Then flatten the mound of each ravioli lightly to distribute the filling to the edges. Put the semolina in a bowl. One at a time, drop each one into the semolina flour and turn to coat with a light dusting and arrange neatly on a tray. These last steps of securing the seal, flattening and coating are critically important If you do not follow them precisely, the ravioli will fall apart during cooking and move you to tears.

Cooking

Cook the ravioli in rapidly boiling water for a few minutes. They should be cooked for about 2 minutes after they float to the surface. Drain in a colander and refresh in cold water, then drain again. They can be held at this point.

In the frying pan (which should be big enough to hold 16 ravioli comfortably) over a medium heat, put a large lump of the truffle butter, 1 tablespoon of port stock and a little pepper. Tip in the ravioli and reheat, shaking the pan to ensure that each of the ravioli is coated with the mixture and is hot.

Serving

Serve at once on a warmed communal serving dish, with a hot soup plate for each person. As you will probably have ravioli left to cook, put some more water on to heat as you sit down, for people may demand second helpings.

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