Ravioli al’uovo, like the one pictured above by Vincenzo's Palate, is a a bit tricky, but well worth the effort.
by Erin Henderson
Ravioli al’uovo is runny egg yolk encased in pasta sheets. Sliced open, the bright yellow (or orange if you are in Europe) yolk seeps out on the plate creating a dramatic presentation.
I leared how to make this in my first pasta class at George Brown College in Toronto. My esteemed teacher, Ema Constantini, expertly took us through this slightly tricky lesson with astonishing grace. I now make it happily and regularly.
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You will often see good pasta shops and fancy restaurants offering ravioli al'uovo during the holidays at hair raising prices. I saw one New York City eatery offering four pieces for $69. And of course, you still must cook the raw ravioli off at home.
To be fair, while the ingredients are humble – just egg, ricotta, and pasta – the process is slightly laborious and not for the faint of heart home cook. So, maybe the commanding price of $17USD per piece is justified.
It is a recipe that is challenging, so perhaps best left to the intermediate cook. However, beginners with as confident sense of conviction can tackle this with success – just take it slow, going one thoughtful step at a time.
Before you even ask, yes, I suppose you could streamline the process by buying already-made fresh dough from a pasta shop. I’ve seen the packaged lasagna sheets in the refrigerator section of at the grocery store, and in theory, I suppose you could use those and cut them into rounds, but I’ve never tried it so I can’t guarantee the success. Besides, I think there’s something soothing in the methodical rhythm of rolling out pasta dough.
If you’re at all squeamish about runny yolks, Ravioli al’Uovo – or eggs in ravioli – is not the recipe for you. The glory here is the oozing flow of sunny yellow vitellus seeping across your plate.
Makes: 12 large ravioli (we find that is plenty for 4, but no judgement either way)
Chef level: intermediate-advanced
- 6pc eggs
- 450g 00 flour
- 150g semolina (preferably semonlina rimacinata)
- 1/2 tsp salt
How to Make It:
- On a work surface make a mound with the two flours. Mix and make a large shallow well in the centre.
- Crack the eggs in the crater and add the salt. Beat with a fork slowly incorporating the surrounding flour. When the dough will begin to come together, with the help of a spatula or just your hands fold in the remaining flour. Knead the dough until smooth.
- Rest 30 minutes covered.
- 300g fresh buffalo ricotta cheese (or other good quality, such as Bella Casara)
- 2/3 recipe pasta dough
- 30g freshly grated pecorino, or other good hard cheese
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 1pc lemon, juice, and zest (reserve juice and half of zest for sauce)
- sea salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 12 large eggs
How You Make It:
- Dry the ricotta by spreading the cheese into a flat sheet across paper towels and covering with a second layer of paper towels. After 20 minutes, the paper towels will be wet and the ricotta will fall off them easily.
- Make the pasta dough, cover and rest 30 minutes to 1 hour in a cool place.
- Mix ricotta with pecorino, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice and zest. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper. With a spatula, transfer filling into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip or a zip top bag with a 1/4-inch hole cut from a bottom corner. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Roll the dough through the pasta machine into a sheet just under 1-1.5mm (1/16 inch). Cut the sheet in half to create 2 pieces of dough.
- Lay dough sheets out on a lightly floured surface. Using a 10-cm (4-inch) round cookie cutter, cut out circles as close together as possible; you should have 24 rounds of dough (if you don't, re-roll dough scraps and cut more circles). Cover half of the dough rounds with a towel to avoid drying out, place dough scraps in a plastic bag, or discard.
- Gently squeeze out a double ring of filling approximately 4 to 5 cm (1 1⁄2 to 2-inches) in diameter onto each of the 12 uncovered rounds.
- One at a time, separate egg yolks from whites and gently slide yolk into centre of ricotta fillings.
- Very lightly wet the edge of each filled dough round with a brush or a finger dipped in water or beaten egg white. Uncover the dough rounds resting under the towel. Set one dough round on top of a round holding the egg to cover it and make a complete raviolo. Slowly working your way around each raviolo, press and stretch the top dough rounds to make the edges meet with bottom dough rounds. Press down gently on each filling, (not the yolk!) to remove air bubbles, then press edges to seal. Transfer ravioli to semolina dusted parchment paper, cover with kitchen towel, and repeat with remaining dough.
- Bring unsalted water to a boil in a large pot.
- In a large pan or two medium pans, heat oil and garlic. When garlic is fragrant and golden, remove from heat and set aside.
- When water is boiling, gently slide ravioli a couple at a time into the water. Boil for 1.5 minutes (ravioli will be slightly al dente). Drain with a slotted spoon, and place on an oiled tray, repeat. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water.
- Meanwhile, remove garlic from the oil, return frying pan to medium heat. Add lemon juice, zest, and pasta water. Swirl pan gently until sauce is emulsified.
- Add ravioli to hot pan and cook for about a minute and a half. You might have to do this in two batches or separate pans.
- Transfer 1or 2 ravioli to each plate and spoon pan sauce on top. Sprinkle with pecorino and basil, serve.
Tips for Success
1. If making in advance, don't go more than a few hours before dinner. So, perhaps assemble around 3 for a dinner at 6 or 7. Complete the ravioli up until they are ready to boil, and leave them covered under a clean dish towel on the counter in a cool kitchen. You don’t want to put pasta in the fridge as the humidity will break down the dough and make it soggy and wet.
2. This dough recipe makes nearly double for what you need. You can tightly wrap the other half and place in the fridge over night to use the next day. But the kids in our family, disappointingly, are not partial to the ravioli, so we just use the other half to roll our for spaghetti or fettuccini for them.
3. A note on searing the pasta after boiling. A non-stick pan works best as you really don’t want the pasta to tear and lose that beautiful liquid yolk. I find keeping the pan very hot and adding a generous ladle of the pasta water will help the ravioli release from the pan so you can just scoop them out with ease.
Brut sparkling wine is a classic pairing with soft boiled eggs and runny yolks – especially the crisp Blancs de Blancs style works marvellously well mopping up the fatty rich goodness on your palate. Bubbly also loans an air of luxury to this already decadent dish which appeals to the impressive aesthetic of this dinner.