Sergio's Secret Recipe #2 - Ravioli Dolci alla Teramana

One of my all time favourite dishes from my region is Ravioli Dolci. It is rare to find this dish in a restaurant, although it is typically served around carnival time, so you might be lucky. I have made this dish for friends, family and guests more times than I can remember and it always goes down extremely well with everyone. It may seem to be an odd marriage between sweet and savoury, but the delicate balance of the two makes for an unforgettable dish which I guarantee you will want again and again.

This recipe will make about 50 to 60 ravioli, so how many you serve per person will depend on whether you are planning this just as a main course or as a primo. Five or six are normally sufficient for a primo, although everyone will want more. They freeze extremely well, so make up a batch and keep them in the freezer for next time!

There are 3 separate stages in making ravioli dolci; the ragù, the pasta and the filling. For ease, I have separated the ingredients and method for each stage. Start with the ragù as this needs to simmer for a long time....the longer the better!

Meat ragù

250g of Minced Mixed Meat (Beef or Veal, or, Beef, Turkey and Pork)

Half a medium carrot, finely chopped into small cubes 1 quarter of a medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped

Half a stick of celery, finely chopped

3-4 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 or 3 Black Peppercorns 2 or 3 Whole Cloves

750ml of Passata Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste

Using a large earthenware cooking pot, place, carrots, onion, celery and oil in the pot and sauté on your stove at medium heat until soft, but not browned. Add minced meat and cook until it is no longer pink and then add the remainder of the ingredients, including the passata. Stir in well, bring to boil and then take the heat down to the lowest you can get it and simmer for at least 2 and a half hours, stirring occasionally. Whilst this is simmering away, you can make the pasta and filling. Don't forget to give your ragù an occasional stir!

Just before serving, take half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and sprinkle and stir well into the ragù.

Filling for Ravioli Dolci (40 to 50)

500g of Ricotta

70g of sugar

1 Beaten Egg Yolk

1 level teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Zest of a quarter of an unwaxed lemon

2 Teaspoons of chopped fresh Marjoram

1 Pinch of salt if desired

Combine all the above ingredients in a mixing bowl and gently fold together using wooden or silicone spoon until everything is mixed well.

Do not use a blender or food mixer, as the ricotta needs to remain light

Cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge whilst you make the pasta

Fresh Egg Pastaof 7 or

3 large eggs

300g flour, 50% Type “0” Flour and 50% Semolina Flour

Place flour on a large wooden board making a well in the centre and add the egg(s). Using one hand gradually move the flour to the centre, combining with the egg until you can form a dough. Work the dough well so that all the egg is absorbed into the flour. Depending on the consistency of the pasta, you may need to add a little water if it is too dry or indeed more flour if it is too wet.

Take approximately 50 or 60g of the pasta and roll on a floured wooden board into a rectangle of about 40cm by 15cm and very thinly to about 1mm. If you do have a pasta machine, use the finest setting to make your pasta sheets.

Take a full teaspoon of the ricotta filling and place a spoonful in a line 7 or 8 dollops at 5cm intervals in the centre of your pasta sheet Fold the pasta over the filling and press the edges together firmly with the edge of your hand to seal. Using the same method with your hand, press between each pocket of filling to form 7 or 8 mounds. Use a crinkle pasta cutter and run the cutter around each parcel in a semi circle, roughly 5 or 6mm from the mound of filling and leaving the folded edge untouched. Do not cut too close to where the filling is otherwise the ravioli will burst when you boil them! Give the closed edge further slight press with your fingers to make sure they are sealed.

The pasta you have left over can be set aside and later kneaded together and used separately for making other pasta shapes.

After each batch, sprinkle it liberally with flour to prevent it sticking together and place on floured tray. Cover and refrigerate if you are going to eat on the same day or you can freeze it, if you have made a large batch. Once they are frozen solid, you can bag them or put them in a plastic container for easier storage

It won't take much cooking, just bring a pan of salted water to a rollicking boil, place your pasta inside and bring back to the boil. When all the ravioli float to the surface they are ready, so Drain well of all water

Serving

When your ravioli is ready, take a deep wide pasta dish and put a couple of spoonful’s of the ragù and spread over the dish. Carefully spoon the ravioli into the dish and spoon over more ragù until the ravioli is liberally coated. It's ready to serve! Add little more ragù to each serving if needed and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese if desired.

Watch out next week for my next secret recipe.

Buon appetito!