Master Pasta Maker

We had the great fortune of having mjw join us for dinner.  This seemed like the perfect occasion to make something a bit more involved—ravioli was the perfect adventure.  Turns out mjw is a natural at the pasta making!  Going with a very seasonally appropriate recipe, we stuffed the ravioli with mashed parsnip and topped it with a mushroom ragoût and added a side salad.  As this was a long process, we tried out pkf‘s suggested polenta fries with our leftover polenta.

We started with the pasta making, this time trying out Jamie Oliver’s simple pasta recipe in The Naked Chef; however I stuck with my tip from Mario Batali and used regular white flour plus 1 T wheat gluten per 1 C flour.  This amounted to 3 C + 3 T flour and 5 eggs.  mjw mixed and kneaded, putting his med-school CPR skills to good use, but the dough was very dry…maybe because of the white flour?

We gradually added a couple tablespoons of water until the dough was firm but not dry.  It sat in the fridge for an hour while we began our polenta fries…

We took our refrigerated leftover polenta, drained the liquid, cut it into strips, and heated up some vegetable oil.  We tried to monitor the oil temperature, but the first polenta pieces we put in bubbled and spattered and totally fell apart, but the small pieces we fished out were delicious, leaving us optimistic.  Maybe the oil was too hot, so we let it cool a bit and tried again.  By the end we used slightly cooler oil and dried the polenta sticks on paper towels before putting them into the pan.  After a couple minutes in the oil, the polenta gained a nice, almost breaded, crust and—as all frying seems to do—made the polenta irresistibly delicious, though maybe a bit greasy.

While we enjoyed the polenta fries, we started the parsnips boiling and the mushrooms simmering.  We followed the recipe to the letter, using both portabella and white mushrooms; we let them simmer down for ~30 minutes.

Once the pasta was set, mjw‘s pasta skills really began to shine.  First, he rolled out the sheets by hand, and then we finished them in the pasta maker to thinness “5.”  I pureed the boiled parsnips, sage, and parmesan with the hand blender and added just a touch of s&p.  The filling itself was tasty and only improved when wrapped in the delicate pasta sheets.  The pasta worked great—not sticky or fragile—and the raviolis came together easily.

We added canned plum tomatoes to the mushrooms and let the sauce thicken together while we finished sealing the raviolis.

Meanwhile, ib whipped up a nice salad with lettuce, radishes, orange pepper, cucumber, and greenmarket mozarella.

Finally, we boiled up the raviolis and ate!  The ravioli and ragoût paired amazingly well together.  On its own the ragoût wasn’t super rich, but we wouldn’t want it any more intense or it might overpower the delicate turnip flavor of the ravioli.  We ended up with more pasta dough than filling, and more filled ravioli than ragoût, so next time we would definitely make a bit more sauce.

Overall, we didn’t modify the recipe at all and it worked wonderfully—definitely a keeper!  We were so glad to share this adventure with mjw.

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3 Responses to Master Pasta Maker

  1. pfoo says:

    yum! delicious! glad to hear about the polenta fries. 🙂

  2. mjw says:

    I will gladly lend my CPR skills to future pasta-making endeavors!

    Diagonal Kitchen rocks!

  3. ib says:

    Next time, CPR-made pizza?

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