Making Cheese-Filled Ravioli
I enjoy making ravioli over the holidays, and once again this year, I dragged out my trusty ravioli form. It's a two piece set that is available in kitchenware stores. The form makes a dozen ravioli at a time, making it a great time saver.
Make a basic pasta dough from 4 cups unbleached all purpose flour, a pinch of salt and four large eggs. You can do the whole thing in a food processor or by hand. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Gather it into a ball and let it rest covered on a floured surface for 30 minutes. I use an inverted bowl to cover it.
Meanwhile, make the filling from:
1 ½ pounds ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
salt to taste
a grinding of black pepper
1 large egg.
Mix everything well and set aside. Take the rested dough and divide it into 4 pieces. Keep the pieces covered as you work with one at a time. Flatten the dough with a rolling pin into a 5-inch square. Then thin the dough down in a hand crank pasta machine until it is the thickness of a sheet of copy paper. You may need to cut the sheet of dough in half crosswise if it is too long. Place a sheet on the bottom part of the serrated form. With the top of the form make small indentations pressing with it on the sheet of dough on the serrated bottom form. Fill the indentations with a teaspoonful of the ricotta cheese filling. Place a second sheet of dough over the filling, then use a rolling pin to roll over the form. This will cut the ravioli and allow them to release from the form. Gather the scraps of dough from around the form and re-roll. Continue making ravioli as described and place them on towel lined baking sheets, spacing them apart.
I make layers of ravioli on clean towels, then freeze them until hard before transferring them to plastic bags. You should have about 12 dozen ravioli.
When ready to cook, take what is needed from the plastic bags and do not defrost them. Place them directly into boiling water and cook about 3 minutes. Drain well and top with your favorite sauce.