In my family Christmas and ravioli go together like Santa Claus and reindeer. Our dinner isn’t complete without ravioli as the first course. Both my grandmother and mother treated us with ravioli. I remember watching my grandmother take a ball of pasta dough and turn it into a paper-thin sheet that covered the surface of her 8-seat kitchen table. It seemed like it took her seconds and a few flicks of her wrist.
It’s not at all as easy as it looks. The dough isn’t as cooperative as my grandmother made it seem. I also remember my grandmother trying to teach my mom how to roll out pasta. Year after year, she would let my mom start rolling, coaching her for a bit, then finally grabbing the rolling pin from my mom and doing it herself. Once my mom learned, my grandmother said she would teach me, but that never happened. Maybe the trick is that you must be an Italian-born grandmother to master the art of pasta rolling by hand.
Luckily I have both a stand mixer with a dough hook and a pasta machine to roll out my dough. It makes ravioli making much easier, and without them, our family might not be having ravioli for Christmas. This year, I’ve lightened up our traditional meat, spinach and cheese ravioli and made crimini mushroom ones instead.
The crimini (baby portobellos) are meaty and rich with that earthy mushroom flavor. Paired with a lemon cream sauce, the dish is rich and creamy but still light enough to lead you into a the next course. The lemon in the sauce brings some acidity to the dish to balance the cream sauce and richnes of the mushrooms. It’s topped with a parsley/lemon zest gremolata for a fresh finish.
Crimini Mushroom Ravioli with a Lemon Cream Sauce
(Serves 6 as a main dish or 8 to 10 as a first course)
For the pasta:
4 1/2 cups (600 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
7 (140 g) egg yolks
3 (150 g) eggs
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
1 cup (250 ml) water, plus 2-3 tablespoons if needed
For the mushroom filling:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized yellow onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
5 cloves of garlic, finely diced
24 ounces (680 g) crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/3 cup (80 ml) Madiera wine
8 ounces (225 grams) grated Parmesan cheese
For the egg wash:
2 tablespoons water
For the lemon cream sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium-sized yellow onion, finely diced
1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 bunch chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Zest of 2 lemons, for garnish
Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
To make the pasta: Using a stand mixer with a dough attachment, stir together the flour and salt.Add the egg yolks, eggs, and olive oil and stir on low speed until combined.Slowly add the water until the dough comes together.You may need 2-3 tablespoons more.Continue mixing until dough has a smooth surface, about 3-4 minutes.Divide into 3 equal portions and wrap each in plastic wrap.Let rest for 30 minutes.
To make the filling:Heat the butter and olive oil in a sauté pan.Add the onions and half the salt and sweat the onions until they are translucent, 3 – 4 minutes.Add the garlic and cook another minute.Add the mushrooms and the rest of the salt and cook on high heat until all the moisture from the mushrooms has released and evaporated, 8 – 10 minutes. (Depending on the size of the pan, you may need to add only half the mushrooms and cook them down; then add the remaining mushrooms.)Deglaze with the Madiera wine and cook about 3 minutes, until the alcohol has evaporated.Cool the mixture and stir in the grated parmesan cheese.Refrigerate until the mixture is cold.
To assemble the ravioli:Lightly flour a working surface.Roll the pasta out until it’s paper thin, about 1/16inch. Using a pasta machine, start on setting one (the widest), and ending on setting 5 or 6.Cut the sheet in half.Place heaping teaspoons spaced about 2 inches apart on one sheet. (You should be able to get 10 to 12 ravioli “filling mounds” on the half sheet, being 2 wide and 5-6 long.)Brush the pasta dough with egg wash (the egg and water beaten together) around the mounds of mushroom filling.Lay the second half of the pasta sheet on top of the sheet that has the filling.Press around each mound of filling to release any air pockets.Cut 2 inch ravioli and place on lightly floured parchment paper.Continue until you have rolled out all the pasta. (You can store in the refrigerator for one day or in the freezer for one month.)
To make the sauce:Heat the butter and olive oil in a sauté pan.Add the onion and salt, and sweat until the onions are translucent.Add the chicken stock, cream and lemon juice.Bring to a boil.Turn the heat to medium low.Reduce by half, about 10 minutes.Add salt to taste.
While the sauce is reducing, bring about 2 quarts of generously salted water to a rolling boil.Place the ravioli in the boiling water and cook until tender to the tooth, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh ravioli and 6 to 7 minutes for frozen.Add to the lemon cream sauce and serve, topped with the chopped parsley, zest of lemon and grated Parmesan cheese to taste.Buon Appetito!
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