Beef and Marjoram Ravioli


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Servings:

    6 to 8

    as a First Course

Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

Apparently Tartar in origin, the two recipes with which I am familiar (Dr. de Pomiane and Ali Bab) are quite different, but the fundamental characteristics are the same. Both use crumbled or powdered dried marjoram (as will you if you have no fresh . . .) in staggering quantity.

Koldouny should be served instantly and directly from the vessel in which it is cooked, nakedly ungarnished (the flavor should all be on the inside—an addition of butter or cheese would only confuse the effect) onto well-heated plates, and it should be eaten with spoons. Knives and forks should be kept out of the reach of the guests for, in Ali Bab’s quaint words, the koldouny’s basic quality (an astonishing explosion of imprisoned perfume in one’s mouth) would be lost “were one to wound it by using a fork” (the surprise and the pleasure are renewed each time one is bitten into—and the temptation to continue eating them forever is sore). If serving as a main course, it is well to cook them in two batches to make sure they are hot at the moment they’re served.

You will need a large marrow bone—ask the butcher to crack it open for you or to saw it into short lengths. Take care that no fragments of splintered bone remain clinging to the marrow.

The following proportions will produce 75 to 80 raviolis.


  • 1 large onion (4 ounces), finely chopped
  • About cup water
  • 8 to 10 ounces lean beef cut from a tender cut of steak, all traces of nervous material, membranes, etc., removed, chopped (see hand-chopping method)
  • 5 to 6 ounces beef marrow, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram flowers and leaves, finely chopped (to a near powder)
  • Salt, pepper

Noodle dough

  • 3 to 3½ cups flour
  • Salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


Cover the chopped onions with water in your smallest saucepan, bring to a boil, skim off the gray scum that forms on the surface, and simmer for about 20 minutes, checking that they do not boil dry. Turn the heat up slightly and stir until all the water has been evaporated. Add to the other ingredients in the mixing bowl, peppering abundantly, stir first to disperse the heat of the onions, then work the stuffing with your hand, squeezing it repeatedly through your fingers until thoroughly homogeneous. Pick up dabs of the stuffing (each the equivalent of a slight level teaspoonful—or about the size of a normal olive) with the tip of a teaspoon and arrange them on a large platter. Put to chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so (just beneath the freezing unit, a ½ hour will do).

Prepare the noodle dough as in the preceding recipe, leaving it to rest. Don’t roll it out until the stuffing dabs are firmly chilled.

Roll out the dough (if by hand, to about 1⁄16 inch or, if by machine, somewhat finer) and, using an inverted tumbler, tin can, or cookie cutter three inches in diameter, cut it into rounds and then stack them, undersides lightly floured, to prevent their drying out. Gather the cuttings together in a ball and roll them out again.

Form the ravioli into half moons, placing a dab of stuffing in the center of each, moistening a band all around the circumference, folding and pinching firmly all around the edge to be certain that the contents are tightly sealed in. Cook in the largest pot you have—in a large quantity of salted, boiling water, counting 4 minutes or slightly over from the moment the water returns to a boil.