Making pasta is a huge tradition in our family. Each year a few weeks before Easter we would gather together and make the ravioli, red sauce/meatballs, and shamelles. Most people have either meat or cheese ravioli, our family have both in one! The story goes that Aunt Rose - my grandfather's mother's sister - used to make the raviolis for their family holidays, and she made cheese/spinach ravioli. Nana (my grandmother's mother) used to make meat. When Nana married Grandpa (my grandfather's grandfather) she and Aunt Rose combined the two recipes... now we have best raviolis ever. And yes, if you are keeping track, my grandmother was her husband's aunt by marriage.
Ravioli freeze really well and you can make them ahead of time and cook them up when you need them.
Please note that this I'm working from my grandmother's handwritten recipe, which means it is a bit complicated to follow. Let me know where it is not clear and I will try to explain further.
Easter 2018 = 4 egg/4 C Flour = 96 Ravioli with enough filling left over to make a Baked Zitti
MEAT, SPINACH & RICOTTA RAVIOLI
1 Batch = ~144 ravioli = ~12 people
5 oz frozen chopped Spinach, thawed and drained
1 lb Ground Pork
1 small Onion
2 tablespoons Tomato Juice
2 lb Ricotta
3/4 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Cloves
Salt & Pepper
6 Eggs, beaten
6 cups Flour
Note: Start the meat filling well in advance of the cheese filling to give it time to cool
Defrost and cook and strain well 5 oz of frozen chopped spinach.
MAKE THE FILLING:
Heat a large heavy bottom frying pan and add olive oil and salt.
Add the ground pork and cook until browned, broken up & mashed with the back of a spoon
Add 1 small onion chopped fine - do not caramelize.
Take pan off heat drain all of fat.
Add 2 tablespoon tomato juice and cook until liquid evaporates, mix in the spinach. Then cool completely.
Beat 2 lbs (or 1 large container or ~1kg) of ricotta with 3 eggs, add ¾ cup Pecorino Romano Cheese, ⅛ tsp nutmeg, ⅛ tsp cloves, salt and pepper - mix together. Then stir in meat mixture.
Set the filling aside and start the dough.
MAKE THE DOUGH:
In a food processor add two cup of flour and two eggs. Very slowly add in cold water until the flour and eggs form a ball. Do not over wet the dough.
Work the dough on a floured board until it is well incorporated and place in a bowl with plastic wrap on top.
Repeat with the remaining flour and eggs (2:2 at a time).
Divide the dough in the bowl into quarters, take one quarter out and recover the remaining 3 pieces with the plastic wrap.
Feed the quarter of dough into the pasta roller on the largest setting. Fold in the sides until it resembles a rectangle, and feed through the largest setting again. Each successive pass of the dough drop the gear one level. Fold the ends in if they get too long and try to maintain a rough rectangle. Keep dropping down a setting until you get to the second to last hole. Do not drop to the smallest setting.
Place on a floured board. Only flour one side - do not flour both sides.
Assemble the ravioli by placing the dough on the ravioli press, gently press down the mold to stretch the dough, but not break it.
Using two teaspoons fill the ravioli. Overfill and they burst while boiling. Underfill them and they do not taste like anything.
Fold over the reaming dough and use a rolling pin to cut them out. Save the excess dough to make fresh linguini.
Place the completed ravioli on a baking sheet coated with semolina and place in the freezer. Freeze for 20 min or so until they are no longer sticky.
Once frozen, place flat in a 1gal / 3L ZipLock freezer bag in two layers separated by parchment paper.
To cook, do not defrost them - cook straight from the freezer. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it well. Only cook 6-8 ravioli at a time. They only need about 1-2 min to cook and are done when they float to the top and start to change color.
Layer cooked ravioli with meat sauce and grated pecorino romano cheese in a large ceramic (oven safe) bowl and keep in the oven on warm until all of the ravioli are cooked.