Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, and Thanksgiving all featured one dish, each and every year, and that was a platter of ravioli. Oh, to be sure, there was the obligatory roast of beef, or pork, or lamb, or turkey cooked to perfection on the table, too, along with all the customary fixin’s. None of it made any difference to me, for my eyes were fixated on the platter of pasta pillows. Everything else was a distraction to which “The Others”, my ravioli-eating competition, would, hopefully, fall prey. “Have some more turkey.” “Want some potatoes with that?” “Save room for dessert.” All music to my ears. As they sampled — and re-sampled — each and every one of Mom’s lovingly prepared dishes, only I remained true to the cause. It was ravioli all the way!
Back then we only had two filling recipes for our ravioli. The meat filling recipe I shared HERE and another, not yet shared, that’s used in soup ravioli (cappelletti) which is traditionally served for lunch on Christmas Day, as well as on other special occasions throughout the year. Well, that was until a few years ago. I had finally mastered the family sausage recipe when a friend asked if I’d ever made his favorite, sausage ravioli. I hadn’t and a subsequent phone call to Zia confirmed that no other Bartolini had either. Well, that just wouldn’t do.
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It wasn’t long before I had made a half-recipe of ricotta and followed that with a couple of pounds of sausage, setting aside a pound of the seasoned meat. After cooking some chopped spinach and gathering some grated Pecorino Romano cheese, I was ready to go. I didn’t pay too much attention to amounts. This was just a test to see if these flavors would blend successfully — and they did. My next trip home, Zia and I made a batch of the filling, paying close attention to the ingredients’ amounts. The ravioli not only passed her taste tests, we devoted an entire Ravioli Day to the making of the new Bartolini Sausage Ravioli. If that isn’t acceptance, I don’t know what is. Today’s recipe is the result our collaboration.
Please note. When making sausage ravioli, there is but one commandment to follow: Know Thy Sausage. Compared to most store-bought or strongly seasoned homemade sausage, Bartolini sausage is rather mild — no fennel seed, for example — so I use a little less ricotta than specified in the recipe. That allows the sausage’s flavors to be more predominant. Most sausage meat tends to run on the salty side, as does Pecorino Romano cheese. Because of this, no salt is added to the ravioli filling. Before making your filling, be sure to fry a little of the sausage meat for a taste, adjusting the filling’s seasoning and, if necessary, ingredient amounts, accordingly.
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Bartolini Sausage Ravioli Filling Recipe
Yield: See Notes below.
- pasta dough — recipe found HERE.
- 1 lb. sausage meat, cooked and well-drained — recipe found HERE.
- 1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, cooked and well-drained
- 1 cup ricotta — recipe found HERE.
- 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- Sauté meat over med-high heat until browned.
- Use meat grinder to finely process the meat. (See Notes.) Add all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until well-combined.
- Cover the filling and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
- Once the filling has rested, you can begin making your ravioli.
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To see a more complete set of instructions for making ravioli with dies, click HERE.
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When I recently made these ravioli, I made 1 batch of this filling and 2 batches (8 eggs) of Mom’s pasta dough. I came away with 22 doz ravioli and 10 oz (284 g) of excess pasta dough, with which I made hand-cut linguine. Now, I probably could have gotten away with using 6 eggs to make the pasta but that would have cut it close. I’d rather have too much pasta dough than find out I’ve not enough and have to make more. Besides, the linguine were delicious!
You do not need a meat grinder to make sausage; a food processor may be used instead. Place some meat into the bowl and pulse the blades until a coarse grind is achieved. Do not just turn it on and let it process. You’re not making pâté. When using sausage meat for ravioli, after it’s cooked, place it in the bowl and pulse it a few times until a smaller grind is achieved.
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I’ve been asked by a few people to talk about the pasta making equipment that I own. Since this is a ravioli post, I’ll start there.
I’ve two ravioli making attachments. One is for my stand mixer and the other attaches to my hand-cranked pasta machine. I’m not all that impressed with either of them. Both have a hopper, situated in the center, for the filling. Dough sheets are fed on either sides of the hopper, passing over a die as the filling drops. The ravioli are formed by the pressure exerted by rollers. My problem with both is that the dough sheets are thicker than what I am accustomed to using. The resultant ravioli have more dough than those of my youth. (Yes, I’m spoilt, but in the best possible way.) You, however, may very well find these ravioli to be acceptable — and that’s just fine. Be forewarned, though, that if the dough sheets are not thick enough, the filling will “run” between the ravioli, making one big mess.
Here is an instructional video to show you how the stand mixer attachment works. The hand-cranked pasta machine attachment works in very much the same way.
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Anyone who has seen my ravioli posts will know that I prefer to use ravioli dies to make my filled pastas. Each will result in a ravioli of a unique size. Starting top-left in the photo below, this die will create 12 ravioli that are 2 inches (5 cm) square. (Bear in mind that, no matter the die used, each raviolo will expand a bit when cooked.) It’s interesting to note that this was the original size of the ravioli that Mom and Zia made by hand until we bambini came into the picture. These were too large for us to handle on our own and our parents had to cut them for us to eat. To help our ravioli dinners go more smoothly, Mom and Zia began making ravioli that were small enough for us little ones to handle on our own.
Which brings us to the die top-right of the picture. This will create 24 ravioli that are 1.25 inches (3.2 cm) square and this most closely resembles the size Mom & Zia made, and Zia continues to make, to this day.
Moving to the bottom-left of the photo, this die will create 40 raviolini that are 3/4 inch (2 cm) square. Mom used these raviolini, calling them cappelletti, in soup. Try as I might, I’ve never gotten the hang of this die. The filling bowl is mighty small, the dough must be mighty pliable, and I end up mighty frustrated, which brings us to …
… the die located bottom-right of the photo. I use this die to make my cappelletti. Each cappelletti is 1 inch (2.5 cm) square and the die will make 48 of the pasta pillows. They may not be as petite as Mom’s but I can make these.
In the center of the photo is a round cappelletti stamp. This is the traditional shape for cappelletti. There was just no way Mom would ever have found the time to individually stamp enough cappelletti for a family of five. Frankly, I don’t know how she did it with the smallest of these dies but she did, repeatedly.
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Lastly, in a recent post, I mentioned that Santa gave me a stand mixer attachment that makes a number of pastas — spaghetti, macaroni of 2 sizes, bucatini, fusilli, and rigatoni. I mentioned that the spaghetti was perfectly made but that some of the other pastas were thicker than what one would purchase at a grocery. This is not a problem for me for the superior taste of homemade pasta far outweighs any concerns about its thickness. Thinking that the eggs in my pasta dough may have been the cause for the difference, I said I’m make some dough using water and semolina flour to see if thinner pasta would result. Well, last week I made the dough and the pasta was no different from that which was made with the “egg dough.” Although I’ve no photos of rigatoni made with a pasta dough made with eggs, I did take pictures of rigatoni made with “eggless” pasta dough and compared it to a manufactured brand.
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In the photo on the top, the raw, store-bought rigatoni is on the left and a freshly made specimen is on the right. Beneath that photo is another, similarly arranged picture, and both pastas are cooked. You can see that the homemade rigatoni are thicker than store-bought. The same holds true for the homemade bucatini, both macaroni, and fusilli. It is yours to decide whether that difference in thickness is a deal breaker.
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It’s déjà vu all over again …
I know. It’s still Christmas in your home and the last thing you want to consider right now is dinner on New Year’s Day. Well, if you want to make that dinner truly special, you’ll need plenty of time so that you can find a picnic ham, skin-on, to make a Bartolini family favorite on the first day of the New Year. Pork Roast with Fennel, Porchetta con Finnocchio, is a spectacular dish, one sure to impress you dinner guests as you start 2013 off on the right foot. You can find the recipe by clicking HERE.
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The Bartolini Clan hopes that Yours was a Wonderful Christmas
May Peace Reign in 2013.
Happy New Year!
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