Sunday, March 25, 2007

Chestnut-Pancetta Ravioli in Sage Butter Sauce

In case you were wondering, yes, this is pretty much the best dish ever.

Chestnut-Pancetta Ravioli in Sage Butter Sauce

For filling:

1 cup roasted, shelled, and skinned chestnuts
2 oz sliced pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 large garlic clove, smashed
1/4 cup water
1 Granny Smith apple
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook pancetta in 3 tablespoons butter in a large heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp on edges, about 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until onion is softened. Add chestnuts and water and simmer, stirring, until liquid is reduced by half. Discard garlic.

Transfer mixture to a bowl and mash to a coarse paste with a fork. Peel half of apple and cut enough of peeled half into 1/4-inch dice to measure 3 tablespoons. Reserve remaining (unpeeled) apple. Stir diced peeled apple into chestnut mixture with parmesan, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

For fresh pasta:
Semolina flour
Olive oil

Yeah, I don't exactly follow a recipe. I pour out a mound of semolina, probably 2-3 cups, and make a little volcano in the center where I put 1-2 eggs and perhaps a tablespoon of oil. Then I add water or flour as necessary until the dough feels soft but is not sticky. Then I knead the bejeezus out of that dough until it is supple, a forearm-taxing 10-15 minutes. But oh ho ho, it is worth it. Then I let the dough rest 30-60 minutes before running it through my pasta machine, usually to #2-#3 thickness. If you don't have a pasta roller on hand, you can try rolling out the pasta dough with a pin, but may the gods be with you, because you're going to want that dough thin. When I pulled the original recipe off, they suggested using won-ton wrappers, but those rice-flour noodles felt too slippery and lacked the toothsomeness of italian pasta.

For Sage-Butter Sauce:

8 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sage, coarsely chopped

Heat 8 tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides and butter begins to turn brown. Stir in sage and cook, stirring, until sage is crisp and butter is golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.

To prepare ravioli:
Here I use a ravioli cutter to parse the pasta, spooning a heaping teaspoon of filling into one side before sealing the package. Set aside but do not stack, until you are ready to boil the ravioli. Prepare a saucepan of salty boiling water and boil ravioli in batches for 3-5 minutes per batch. Drain with slotted spoon. Douse with sauce, extra parmasan, and garnish with remaining apple slices. Serve immediately.

When you make this, your eyes will roll back in your head and you will feel a greater sense of connectedness to the universe. Anyone sitting within your proximity will immediately be overcome with a maddening desire to make love to you. Birds will sing. Flowers will bloom. It is pretty freakin' good.

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