The ravioli were homemade, as was the tomato sauce. But to start at the beginning…I was walking across my favorite market on a Saturday morning feeling uninspired. My better half didn’t want fish (neither did I, I’d had fish 3x this week), nor did I see any fascinating vegetables other than the usual winter fare. Mind you, there’s a time and place for all of nature’s inventions, but I was feeling picky.
There is a butcher on the plaza that houses the market who has been awarded a plaque saying his shop is one of the best in Germany, according to ‘Feinschmecker’, a gourmet monthly magazine. Here I bought two sausages with a finely cuttered filling (pork). Then I bicycled a few hundred yards to an italian supermarket ( a small one), where the customer sevice is great. There are more employees than customers, usually, so you can get detailed information on all the products they have. I bought two cans of the famed San Marzano tomatoes from the foot of Mount Vesuvius. I got some other things, such as a fresh basil plant, some arborio risotto rice, some italian ’00’ flour and a fresh piece of parmigiano reggigiano and went on my way.
At home I made the pasta dough by combining 200 g of the flour with 50 g of durum wheat semolina and 3 whole eggs. The original recipe called for two whole eggs and 4 yolks and I thought that was a little over the top. The dough as kneaded for about 7 minutes, wrapped in Saran wrap and chilled in the fridge for a little over an hour. This was the first time a dough was usable without additional flour and such. I have made Marcella Hazan’s recipe a few times, only to have to add more flour because the dough was too sticky. Not here.
For the filling I cut the sausages apart lengthwise and removed the filling from the casing. This I combined with a few tablespoons ricotta, salt, pepper, oregano and a spice mix made of a blend of anise seeds, fennel seeds and caraway seeds. I used just a pinch to conjure visions of salsiccia which sometimes is made with fennel as well. After I had made the dough with my manual noodle macchine, I used a small spoon to portion the amount of filling for the ravioli. These I put aside awaiting their swim in boiling water.
For the sauce I chopped a large shallot and an equally large garlic clove and slow roasted that in a pool of good olive oil. To this I added some tomato paste, roasted this as well and added the last of my bottle of Noilly Prat, the vermouth that makes a wonderful sauce. After that came the canned tomatoes, oblong in shape and with a sweetness I haven’t found in other canned tomato products. These tomatoes I cut into little pieces, added salt, pepper, sugar (1 teaspoon) and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar. I reduced the sauce somewhat, to intensify the flavor, and then cut up another bunch of basil for a last-minute sauce infusion.
Not shown is the Parmesan cheese we whittled over the ravioli with my newest toy, a microplane shredder (do you call it that?) or a whittler? This microplane gadget is great. I have a WMF grater- it sucks compared to this thing.
Synopsis: As simple as these ingredients sound, they were at optimum taste. My only criticism, not shared by my better half, is with the thickness of the noodle dough. She liked it, I thought it a little bit too thick. The problem is when I use the smallest setting on the noodle machine, the dough starts tearing.
Nonetheless. I would make this again, in particular for young people, to show them how good the real deal really is.