Another year, another triumph.
My beloved and I have developed a bit of a Valentine’s Day tradition. Either on the day, but typically a weekend day shortly before, we forego the usual formalities of a hard-to-get dinner reservation (which are also often crowded and disappointing) and plan and prepare our own elaborate meal. And there is one course that appears every year – ravioli. With a few years under our belts, experience and creativity are on our sides, so the ravioli course while a constant, is also constantly changing from year to year.
Accompanying this year’s ravioli were a first course of La Tur – a soft, buttery mixed-milk cheese – with homemade quince paste and crusty no-knead bread. Next was a mussel and winter root vegetable soup enriched with bacon fat. Dessert was fudgy, from scratch brownies with raspberry frozen custard from our our neighborhood scoop-shop, the Dairy Godmother.
But, ok, the real reason we’re here is to talk about ravioli. For the last several years, we’ve been using various round, square, and of-course, heart-shaped cookie cutters to form our ravioli. And the results, while really good and satisfying, have been, well, maybe a little amateurish, admittedly. So, in an attempt to up the ante, we splurged for a ravioli maker to add a little legitimacy to this operation.
In the weeks leading up to the dinner, ideas are thrown out regarding what we’ll do this year. I wanted to try a flavored pasta, so I proposed using kale as a base. Then, as we contemplated a sauce, we naturally tended toward something smokey and porky. And then, as if it were staring us right in the face, we thought, “what if we put bacon on the inside of the ravs?” And so it was decided. And this was no ordinary bacon. This was Benton’s bacon, one of the best bacons around from Tennessee that we smuggled back from a recent trip to New York City. Seriously, this stuff is just about the pinnacle of all bacon, but that’s another story.
The operation was pretty simple and along with our new fangled ravioli press, we also employed a food processor for the first time in our dough making. It all just came together relatively quickly. The only laborious part being the rolling of the dough. The end result was by far our finest performance. Not just uniformly shaped and filled, but the filling was simple, but fluffy and exquisitely bacon-y.
After they were filled and boiled, we sauced them with some rich tomato sauce that was leftover from the summer that reduced on the stove slowly for several hours.
Ricotta and Bacon-filled Kale ravioli
makes about 36 ravioli, about 4-6 servings
- 2-3 c. uncooked kale
- 9 oz. AP flour (more as needed, also keep more on hand for dusting)
- 3 eggs
- Remove and discard the stems of the kale, and cook the leaves in a about 1/4 c. of water in a covered pot until they’re tender – about 20-30 minutes.
- Squeeze all of the liquid from the kale and let it cool. You’ll end up with about a cup.
- In a food processor, chop the kale and add the eggs and give it a spin for about 20 seconds.
- Add most of the flour and process. The dough should start to come together after a minute or so. Continue to add more flour until the dough comes together in a ball but is still the slightest bit sticky.
- When the dough is formed, dump it out and pat it into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least an hour.
- 16 oz. ricotta
- 1 egg
- 3-5 strips of cooked bacon, crumbled
- Put the ricotta and bacon in a bowl.
- Beat the egg separately and then add to ricotta.
- Mix to combine, then whip vigorously with your spoon for about 30 seconds till the filling fluffs a little bit.
- Cut your dough into 6 equal portions and roll out sheets in a pasta machine. They should be as thin as you can get them without tearing. Set each aside in a floured towel.
- Fill your ravioli. If going free-form, lay out one sheet of pasta and spoon about a teaspoon of filling equally spaced on your sheet and then lay another pasta sheet over, pressing out the air around the filling and cut out ravioli with a knife or cookie cutters, pressing on the edges of each ravioli to be sure they’re sealed. If using ravioli maker, just follow the instructions provided (like we did.)
- Flour the ravioli and return to the floured towels.
- Repeat 2. and 3. till you’ve used all of your pasta sheets and filling. You can roll out any scraps of pasta you accumulate along the way to extend your production.
- Cook as many ravioli as you plan on serving in gently boiling salted water for about 5 minutes till the pasta is cooked through.
- Freeze any leftover, uncooked ravioli.