The first time I ate pasta was a revelation; I wanted to eat pasta every day for the rest of my life – it was so satisying. I was so smitten that I bought a pasta machine and learned how to make pasta. The best pasta of all was ravioli. I loved the little surprise of a stuffing inside a dough and covered with sauce.
I learned in Italy to stuff pasta dough with cooked fillings, and then boil the ravioli. Sometimes, I would bind the fillings with a raw egg to help the filling stick together. These raviolis were, of course, totally delicious, but they usually fell apart when I boiled them (no matter how diligently I sealed the packages).
There is a better way. Although this method is not traditionally Italian, raw meat fillings in ravioli yield a superior pasta. These raviolis do not have to be babied and they do not fall apart while boiling! They are perfect little pillows of dumplings that I cannot resist eating.
I have now made raviolis with many different raw stuffings (pork, beef, chicken, lamb, lobster, cheese) and sauced with butter, olive oil, egg, cream, or tomato. They are all totally delicious and far easier to work with than how I learned to make ravioli when I was in Italy.
When I make pasta dough, I use a pasta machine to knead the dough. The dough can be knead by hand (but it is very dense) or with a food processor. A stand mixer cannot handle the dough. The pasta machine can then be used to roll out the dough to a thin sheet. Or, flex your upper-body strength, and roll out the dough with a Thorpe rolling pin on a pastry mat!
For years, Kitchen Conservatory has sold the checkered ravioli pin and I could never understand it. The squares seemed tiny. I prided myself on my homemade giant ravioli with a big border of dough. These ravioli pins cut one-inch squares. Why would anyone want to bother? Well, I was wrong. This ravioli pin does make superior ravioli.
Here is the beauty of a raw-meat filling: Spread the filling all over half of the dough. Fold the dough over the filling. Use the checkered ravioli pin to make the impressions on the dough. Use a pasta cutter (looks like a pizza cutter, but with fluted edges) to cut the squares. When these ravioli are boiled, they never fall apart. The result is the most satisfying ravioli I have ever put in my mouth.
Ravioli for Dinner Tonight
for the pasta:
Mix together the egg, yolk, oil, and flour and add enough water for the dough to stick together. Using the widest setting on a pasta machine, roll the dough through, fold in half, and roll again. Repeat until the dough is smooth and satiny (about ten times). Then use the succeeding settings on the machine to make the dough thin. Or roll out with a rolling pin. The dough should be “thin enough to read a newspaper through it.”
for the filling:
Mix together the cheese and sausage. If desired, add salt, pepper, hot pepper, parmesan cheese, garlic, or onion.
for the sauce:
Gently saute the garlic in oil until tender, but not browned. Add the wine. Add the tomatoes. Add the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Let cook for about 15 minutes.
Spread the filling on half of the pasta dough. Fold the dough over the filling. Use a checkered ravioli pin to roll over the dough and form the ravioli. Use a fluted pasta cutter to cut the ravioli. Bring a pot of water to a boil and boil the ravioli until tender, about two minutes. Drain and top with the tomato sauce. Add parmesan cheese to taste.