Ravioli DayPosted: 7 January 2011
>Every other year my family makes ravioli. Because our ravioli contain turkey (and possibly another reason I’m unaware of) this always happens the day after Thanksgiving. I think we used to do it every year but now we make enough in one day to last for two years. It is a long, long process that takes all day. It’s fun, but it’s a lot of work. Luckily we all really like eating the ravioli so you know, all the hard work is worth it. This year we made over 1000 ravioli which is pretty impressive for a staff of four in one kitchen. Honestly, we’ve all been doing this for so long it’s like settling into a routine where we all know our part and when we’re all on our game it’s like a well-oiled assembly line. We eat these raviolis primarily at Christmas but also for the majority of cold-month family dinners. November birthdays, for example, are a good time for delicious ravioli. They’re good in summer too (they’re always good, obvi) but there’s something about spicy sausages, steaming red sauce and cheese-turkey-spinach stuffed ravioli that goes well with red wine, snow banks and fireplaces. You can fight synergy (Jack Donaghy).
The filling is made up of ground turkey, and not the ground prepackaged stuff at the store. You cook a turkey in the oven, then shove the meat through your stand mixer’s food processor. I don’t know much about making the filling except that it has turkey, ricotta, mozzarella, spinach and eggs. It gets mixed in a giant vat and you have to reach your hands in and mix it as best you can because there’s no product that would fit in a normal kitchen that could properly mix that much filling. Making the filling and the dough is Mom’s job. She alone really knows how to do it. I think it’s written down somewhere but probably with annotations and such. The three of us are going to have to learn how she does it at some point. Making ravioli is like fighting horcruxes. You can’t just have one person understanding what needs to be done. Better to entrust the secret to three people. If you want to make our ravioli for yourself, I suggest mixing a bit of all the ingredients until it looks like it does below. I don’t think you HAVE to have a certain percentage of each, I’m sure it’ll be tasty no matter what percentage you use. Personally I’m usually advocating for the removal of the turkey so we just have cheese and spinach ravioli but that hasn’t gone over well with the others. It’s not that I don’t like the turkey, I just really love cheese. We also made a few (and by a few I mean like 200) butternut squash raviolis this year. We haven’t eaten any of them yet but I’m guessing they’re going to be awesome because how could they not be? YUM.
Anyway. Mom makes the dough and the filling. The dough is made in less-than-massive quantities so she usually makes a number of batches throughout the day. This way we don’t wind up with way too much dough and waste it. Nor does the dough get dry from sitting too long. We keep it covered, but even still, you don’t want dough sitting and waiting to be used for hours and hours and hours. I have no idea what goes into the dough but I think your basic pasta dough recipe would suffice. Some flour combined with a binding agent. Could be eggs, could be oil, could be water. Could be a combination of them. Use whatever you’d like, it’s really not hard to do.
The assembly line starts with my sister (Wee-Sister 1, if you will). She cuts a chunk of dough off the reservoir and pats it flat with flour. Then she cranks it through our hand-crank dough machine. Oh yes. The dough is pulled by hand crank. My sister’s hand to be exact. If you have a hand crank dough machine, the settings we use are 1, 3, and 5. Each strip of pasta has to be run through three times to get it to the right thinness for the ravioli.
|Rolling the dough, with a suspicious onlooker.|
I am capable of doing all of the assembly line jobs but we each excel in different areas and my area is the filling. Once the cranked dough is ready it’s stretched onto a floured ravioli pan. I fill each pocket of dough with filling. A cookie scooper works really, really well for this. The filling has to be the right size so it doesn’t overflow and also has to be pressed down so there’s no air in the pocket.
|Three containers of this size, all full, made enough filling for 1000 ravioli.|
Once filled, another sheet of dough is pulled over the pockets, rolled with a rolling pin to seal the dough, and flopped onto a floured bread board where my other sister (Wee-Sister 2) cuts the raviolis apart, shovels them onto cookie trays and counts them up to make sure we have an accurate count.
|Cutting the ravioli.|
Wee-Sister 1 keeps on task and on schedule as best she can while Wee-Sister 2 dances and sings random things while cutting, and keeps an obsessively close watch on the counting. This year, Wee-Sister 2 was singing a song about rolling out dough. She has a knack for remembering ridiculous things and was singing a song that Balki sang for cousin Larry on Perfect Strangers. Yes. She remembered a song about dough from a television show that went off the air 18 years ago. I’m not sure how she manages that. I remember watching that show but I definitely don’t remember a song about dough. Alas.
While all of that takes place, Dad runs the ravioli out to the chest freezer so they can be frozen first on their tray, and then dumped into a giant plastic container in the freezer. Senor usually hides in the family room where you’re less likely to get coated in flour. The dogs, fools that they are, stay underfoot hoping for a treat and thus, are coated in flour by the end of the night. My dogs are complete idiots and find flour a tasty treat. Oliver’s tongue was white with flour from licking it up off the floor. I swear to God, you’d think we never feed them.
Honestly, we were so busy with the task at hand that there wasn’t much time for picture-taking. I got yelled at for slowing down the process with the few pictures I did take. This is a project that literally takes all day and I’m pretty sure the men-folk fear the entire process. Dad doesn’t seem to mind which is lucky because we need someone to run those trays out to the freezer!
The beauty of ravioli is you can really make any kind you want and as long as you have a tasty filling, they’ll be delicious. If you’re just starting out, I don’t recommend trying to make more than, oh, 50 of the little buggers though. If you like our idea of turkey, cheese and spinach, have at it! Just remember that a little goes a long way when it comes to ravioli filling. I will say, the hand-crank, the filling tray, and the availability of a chest freezer to freeze the things is super helpful. If you’re going to eat them right away, just plop them in boiling water. They only take a few minutes to cook. They’re super-filling too, so a serving is usually 5-6 ravioli per person. Although one time Wee-Sister 2 ate 25 of them so be aware, they’re addicting. And I have some in my fridge right now if you’d like to come over and have some. Delish!