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RAVIOLI GENOVESE STYLE

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Ravioli alla Genovese
Liguria
Preparation - Difficult
Serves 6

The authors of this recipe ran a well-known restaurant (George's) in Rome some years ago. The recipe gives you some historical perspective on Italian cooking; use your own imagination for substitutions!

The first stage with this dish is to prepare the sauce.

THE SAUCE:
  • 2 kilos (4 1/2 lb) fresh tomatoes or 1.65 kilo (4 lb) tinned peeled tomatoes
  • 3 dessertspoonsful corn oil or cooking oil
  • 20g (scant 1 oz) kidney fat
  • 400g (1 lb) shin of beef, chopped
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 a small clove of garlic chopped up
  • 10 leaves of rosemary
  • 1/2 glass dry red wine
  1. Peel the tomatoes if these are fresh (1 minute in boiling water first will help this); in any case remove seeds and liquid, and pass through a vegetable mill. Put the oil and the kidney fat in a pan, heat well, and add the pieces of shin of beef and sear them well, turning all the time. They should be a good golden brown all over. Add salt and pepper, and then the chopped onion, garlic, and rosemary. Fry for 3 minutes, taking care that the onion doesn't become dark. Add the wine, and reduce it completely
  2. Add the tomatoes. Cover the pan and cook for 2 hours over a very low heat. Stir every now and then. If the sauce shows signs of becoming too thick add a little boiling water from time to time
  3. At the end of the two hours take the meat out of the pan (part of this will be used for the stuffing) and pass the rest of the sauce through a strainer. Taste for pepper and salt, and season if necessary. Put on one side.

The pasta for these ravioli is slightly different from the normal.

THE PASTA:
  • 250g (10 oz) flour
  • 2 eggs
  • a teaspoonful of olive oil
  • salt
  • enough tepid water to get a smooth soft dough

After the ingredients have been mixed together in the usual way the dough must be left to rest in a floured cloth for half an hour before it is rolled out.

THE STUFFING:
  • l00g (1/4 lb) calves' brains or sweetbreads - sheeps' may be used if preferred
  • 50 g (2 ozs) fresh pork sausages
  • 1 dessertspoonful oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 300g (3/4 lb) leaves of borage (boiled, squeezed dry, chopped)
  • 1 kilo (2 1/2 lb) spinach beet (boiled, squeezed dry, chopped)
  • 400g (1 lb) endive - the green curly sort, not the white (boiled, squeezed dry and chopped)
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g (4 ozs) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 225 ml (3/8 pint) milk curdled with rennet - the basis for junket
  • 200g (1/2 lb) shin of beef, finely chopped (see above)
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 50g (2ozs) butter
  1. Put the oil into a pan. When it is hot add the onion and garlic and fry gently for a few minutes. Add the pieces of sausage meat, and when the fat of this has melted add the brains or sweetbreads, cut into small pieces. Finally add the borage, the beet, and the endive. Cook for a few minutes more.
  2. Transfer the contents of the pan to a bowl. Add the eggs, 50g (2 oz) of the grated Parmesan, the curdled milk, the chopped shin of beef, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and use for stuffing the ravioli.
  3. Cook the ravioli in abundant boiling salted water for 4 or 5 minutes. When you think that they have reached the proper point it is best to taste one to verify this. Lift them carefully out of the pan with a perforated ladle. Put one layer on a heated serving dish. Sprinkle with some grated Parmesan, a few small pats of butter, and some of the sauce, making sure that this is still warm.
  4. Repeat the process until all the ravioli and the sauce have been used up, and dressed with cheese and butter.

The ravioli have a slightly different shape from the usual, and should be made as follows:

  1. Spread a fine sheet of the pasta which you have made on the kitchen table. Brush it with beaten egg.
  2. Lay on the sheet of pasta the little balls of stuffing at regular intervals. Cover this with a second sheet of pasta. Press with your fingers round each ball of stuffing, and then cut round these protuberances so that you have a series of round ravioli, each with a little ball of stuffing in the middle.

Note: this is one of the classical Italian dishes, and possibly the best of all the ravioli recipes. Don't be deterred by the apparent complexity. All the processes are really quite simple, and there is no difficulty if they are done in the proper order. It is however very advisable to check carefully that you have all the ingredients ready before you start - you can't go popping down to the shops, half way through, for something that is missing.

Adapted from:
The Complete Book of Pasta
Enrica and Vernon Jarratt
Michael Joseph Ltd.

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