On one of Victor’s several extended visits to wine producers of the Langhe, that small district in southwestern Piedmont that gives birth to what my husband declares are the world’s noblest red wines and the finest cooking in Europe, we stayed for several days at Da Felicin, a restaurant with rooms in Monforte d’Alba, the handsomest of the Piedmontese wine towns. Monforte is the ideal base from which to explore the Serralunga valley, where the most robust and profound Barolos are made. While Victor spent his days in the district’s cellars I spent mine in the kitchen with Giorgio Rocca, Da Felicin’s proprietor and prodigiously accomplished cook.
I was amazed to see Giorgio make dough for tajarin, the thin Piedmontese noodle, using forty egg yolks to 2 pounds of flour, but amazement was not succeeded by conviction. I am still persuaded that the ideal noodle for homemade pasta is that achieved with the Bolognese proportions of two whole eggs to approximately 1 cup flour. On another morning, however, Giorgio made ravioli al plin and they won my unqualified admiration.
Before cutting the ravioli from a long pasta tube that bulges intermittently with stuffing, Giorgio pinches the pasta between each bulge to make a pleat, the plin. It is the simplest of procedures and has a delicious result: Every one of the ravioli acquires a tiny pocket for collecting a dollop of sauce and conveying it into ones mouth.
You can put a plin into any kind of ravioli you like to make, but always take into consideration the balance of flavors between stuffing and sauce. A very tasteful stuffing needs a delicately complementary sauce, of which the recipe below is an example. A savory sauce, on the other hand, ought not to have to compete with too rich a stuffing.