When it comes to the Italian tradition of making homemade ravioli, there is some debate as to exactly which method is the correct one. Chances are every culinary class teaches their own techniques, but here are some tips that will help make your Italian creation stand out from the rest!
Essentially, the five tips for making homemade ravioli can be broken down this way:
1. The type of pasta and filling you want;
2. Mixing and rolling the pasta ingredients;
3. Deciding and mixing the type of filling you wish to use;
4. Filling and cutting the pasta; and,
5. Cooking or storage of the pasta.
First, you must decide which type of pasta you want – one with or without eggs, semolina (regular white flour) or whole wheat. Culinary classes often teach students to make it both ways since certain allergies or dietary requirements may require one type or the other. Once that is decided, make sure you have a fairly large clear workspace, as this can get messy, especially if you are new to pasta making.
Mix your ingredients for the pasta well, and then you will need to roll the pasta into at least two very thin sheets. A large wooden or marble rolling pin is invaluable for this. You may have to cut the sheets of pasta to make them more manageable. Once rolled out, the pasta you won’t be working with right away should be covered with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out.
Then you should decide what you are going to use for filling. You are only limited by your imagination, but a simple filling of mashed potatoes and cheese is not hard to put together. If you take a culinary class you will likely experiment with a variety of different cheese types as well as sweet potato and brown sugar. Prepare and mix your filling. Once the filling is ready to go, make sure the there are two sheets of pasta, top and bottom. The bottom might be a little larger, to make sure of the seal once filled. Using a manageable scoop, add the filling at regular intervals on the bottom layer, depending on the size of the ravioli you wish to make.
Now that the filling is added to the bottom layer, use a wash, either made of egg, or milk or water, if not using egg, and brush over the bottom layer. This will help with the sealing of the pasta layers. Now carefully add the top layer of the pasta to the bottom layer.
Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, or even just a regular paring knife, cut the ravioli to shape, and then press the edges to make a seal. Again, the ravioli shapes are only limited by your imagination. The ravioli is now ready for use.
It doesn’t take long to cook fresh pasta, so you should do so right away to prevent drying out of the pasta. Simply drop it carefully into boiling salted water for a few minutes until done. All that is needed is the sauce you will be using, a tomato-based sauce or an Alfredo sauce, or even just oil and spices, depending on your taste. Again, you are only limited by your imagination as to the type of meal you want.
Or the pasta is ready to freeze for anytime you need a quick and easy meal. Carefully place the pasta in freezer-safe bags and store flat in the freezer. When pulled from the freezer, do not thaw, just put in boiling water until done. If you enjoy these types of cooking challenges, you may find that culinary classes are a good option for you.
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