Pleated Ravioli Piedmontese-Style Stuffed with Meat and Savoy Cabbage

Ravioli al Plin

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • About

    4 to 6

    ravioli, serving persons

Appears in

Marcella Cucina

By Marcella Hazan

Published 1997

  • About

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.

Ingredients

For the Pasta

  • Homemade yellow dough made with 2 extra-large eggs, approximately cups unbleached flour, and 1 tablespoon milk if using a pasta machine, or those for the hand-rolled method

For the Stuffing

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 peeled whole garlic cloves
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary or about 1 dozen dried leaves, chopped very fine
  • ½ pound veal, cut into strips
  • ½ pound pork, cut into strips
  • Salt
  • Black pepper ground fresh
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • cups shredded Savoy cabbage
  • 2 egg yolks

For Cooking and Saucing the Ravioli

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup choice sweet butter
  • 6 to 8 fresh sage leaves
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

A warm serving platter

Method

Making the Meat and Cabbage Stuffing

  1. Choose a sauté pan or skillet that can later accommodate all the meat in a single layer without overlapping; put in 1 tablespoon of oil and all the garlic; and turn on the heat to medium high. Briefly cook the garlic, stirring frequently, until it becomes colored a very, very pale gold; then add the rosemary, stir once or twice, and put in the veal and pork.
  2. Brown the meat thoroughly on both sides, add salt and pepper, turn the meat over once or twice, then put in the white wine. Let the wine bubble completely away, occasionally scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, then use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer the meat to a bowl. Pick out and discard the garlic.
  3. Add remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and put in the shredded cabbage. Turn up the heat to high and, using a wooden spoon, turn over the cabbage for 2 minutes until it has become evenly coated. At this point, lower the heat to minimum, cover the pan, and cook the cabbage, turning it occasionally, until it achieves a very soft, nearly creamy consistency, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Empty the entire contents of the pan into the bowl with the meat to combine all ingredients. Chop the combined ingredients using either a knife and chopping block or the food processor. In the latter case, avoid overprocessing the mixture to a pulp. Return the mixture to the bowl and add the egg yolks, incorporating them into the stuffing with a wooden spoon.

Making the Ravioli

  1. Roll out the dough by the machine or hand method, as you prefer. From the soft, freshly rolled-out dough cut off a long rectangle 3 inches wide. Keep the uncut dough covered by plastic wrap.
  2. Dot the rectangle with pellets of stuffing about the size of a large chickpea, setting them down in a row inches apart and ¾ inch away from one of the long edges of the rectangle.
  3. When you have distributed as many dots of the meat and cabbage mixture as will fit along the pasta strip, bring the edge farther from the stuffing over them and join it to the other edge, pressing both edges together (photo A), creating a long tube that bulges with stuffing at regularly spaced intervals. Run a pastry wheel over the whole length of the cut side of the tube to trim it evenly and seal it securely (photo B).
  4. With your thumb and forefinger, firmly pinch the pasta tube together at each space in between the bulging mounds of stuffing (photo C). To finish forming the pleat, cut the pasta where you have pinched it, using the pastry wheel, running it from the rounded folded-over edge of the tube to the flat cut edge (photo D).
  5. Spread out the resulting “pinched” ravioli on clean, dry, cloth towels, making sure they do not touch. If they do they will stick to one another and tear when you pull them apart. If you are not cooking them right away, turn them over from time to time while they are drying.

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Cooking and Saucing the Ravioli

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, salt liberally, and drop in the ravioli with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook at a steady but moderate boil.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, put the butter in a small skillet and turn on the heat to medium. When the butter foam subsides, and just before the butter’s color begins to turn from golden to brown, add the sage leaves. Cook for a few seconds, turning the sage leaves over once, and take the pan off heat.
  3. The pasta should be cooked by now. Taste it to make sure, then drain it and transfer it to a warm serving platter. Pour the contents of the pan over the pasta, toss thoroughly, add the grated Parmesan, toss again, and serve at once.