|Herb Speckled Crab Ravioli with a Lemon Butter Drizzle|
Happy New Year!
This past Sunday afternoon I hosted lunch for some friends I hadn't seen in a while as an early New Year's celebration. I would call them foodies, knowing they've eaten at some of the best restaurants here in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I knew I had to bring my A-Game.
I had been planning this dish for more than a year when I was doing some research for my prior 'fresh pasta from scratch' dish which appeared on my last website. I wanted to get the basics down before I started to experiment, however I wanted to visit pasta from scratch again eventually. I needed a way to elevate my skill set from my last attempt. I hope you agree that I have found one.
Successfully prepare a more complex fresh pasta dish.
I've put together this dish from several sources. I took the pasta ingredients from about.com, but the pasta dough instructions were borrowed heavily from Chef Tomm Johnson of The International Culinary Center. His YouTube demonstration can be seen here. I adopted the crab filling from Tasty Adventures in addition to the sauce from Martha Stewart.
For the pasta dough:
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, finely minced
1 pinch kosher salt
For the filling:
1 cup fresh crab meat
1 shallot, finely minced
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
For the drizzle:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade
freshly grated Parmesan
1. Prepare the filling: Combine all the filling ingredients in a medium bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Make the pasta dough: On a clean, flat work surface (I find a deep cookie sheet works well), place the flour in a mound and make a well in the center so the flour resembles a volcano. Add the salt in the well. In a separate bowl, combine 4 eggs and parsley and add to the well.
Stir the wet ingredients into the flour gradually. Once combined, knead the dough until both the inside and outside of the dough is tacky but not sticky, using more flour when necessary, about 8 to 15 minutes. Once finished, wrap in cellophane and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Roll the dough: After the dough has rested, remove from refrigerator and cut the dough into 4 equal size portions. Cover three of the four portions and flatten the remaining portion to 1/2 inch thick. Pass the portion through the widest setting of a pasta roller. Then fold the dough into thirds and pass it through the pasta roller again at it's widest setting with the folds perpendicular to the roller. Repeat this once more for a total of three passes through the widest setting. Then pass the dough through the roller once at increasingly smaller settings. (I have an Atlas pasta machine with six settings and went to the fifth one.) Repeat the process with the remaining three dough portions.
4. Make the ravioli: I purchased a ravioli press to construct my ravioli in this manner. If one isn't available, lay a sheet of pasta onto a flat surface and spoon out one-half teaspoon full of the ravioli filling one inch apart and one inch from the edge of the pasta sheet, two-by-two if possible. Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl brush the egg in between each mound of filling. Lay a second pasta sheet over the first one and press down in between the filling, being careful not to puncture holes in the pasta sheet but pushing out as much air as possible. If not using immediately, make a bed of flour on a sheet pan and freeze the ravioli on the flour. Once frozen, transfer the ravioli to a resealable bag.
5. Finish the dish: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ravioli and cook until they float to the top. Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet until the butter foams but before it browns. Add in the cooked ravioli and 2 tablespoons of pasta water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Swirl to combine and transfer the ravioli to a bowl. Drizzle with the sauce, garnish with basil, and shower with some freshly grated parmesan. Serve immediately.
Just barely. I finally met my match with this dish because of the problems I had throughout. My pasta dough kept tearing when I fed it through the roller at the widest setting. Once I got that issue resolved, I tried to use my ravioli press but kept puncturing holes in the pasta sheets once I layed the first sheet of pasta over the press. Ultimately, what I ended up doing was a hybrid of the two methods in step 4 above: cutting out individual raviolo and shaping each one individually in the press for a uniform size.
I made the dough Friday night and allocated about two hours to roll out the dough and make the ravioli Saturday afternoon. As I was into my sixth hour on Saturday evening with Mrs. Stuntman seeing my frustration growing, I suggested she start looking at take-out menus for dinner. My laborious efforts yielded less than twenty ravioli, however I only used half of the ravioli dough. I was too tired to continue. Because of this, I halved the ingredients in the drizzle which resulted in a muted lemon flavor.
In the end, the effort was well worth it. My friends appreciated the pasta from scratch (not fully knowing my struggles with it) and Mrs. Stuntman said it was her favorite tasting dish I've prepared to date, especially since crab is one of her favorite seafoods. Crab also makes the filling seasonal.
I'm actually thankful for my troubles with this dish because it is what I set out to do when I started this website: make food that is challenging for the home cook. Look for more challenging dishes in 2013. In fact, I already have ideas for my next pasta from scratch dish, elevating my game once again.