What to have for Christmas dinner? Ah, the eternal question. It should be special, communal and hearty, but not so complicated that you can not enjoy the day. Ham is traditional fare in our family, but we were a small group this year and I already made ham for our Winter Solstice Party. The week before the Christmas holiday, I picked up a half a hog, one hundred and twenty pounds of local, pasture-raised pork from Snake River Farms Minnesota now grace my deep freeze. So clearly is had to be made of pork.
Garlic Sausage Ravioli seemed like a delicious solution. Although there are lots of steps in the process, we could make the garlic sausage ahead of time, then assemble the ravioli on Christmas day while lounging around in our pajamas. My partner’s family has a long tradition of doing hand-made ravioli for Christmas, so he was game. Making ravioli is a lot like making tamales – it’s much more fun with help (and wine).
The results were wonderful. The sausage was savory and delicious, packed with garlic and wine, pairing perfectly with fresh milky ricotta cheese, nutty parmesan and pungent romano. The hand-rolled pasta, made bright yellow with farm fresh eggs enrobed the filling. The cooked ravioli was dressed with a rustic tomato sauce made from my summer canned tomatoes, and sprinkled with a little extra parmesan cheese to finish it off. Heaven. Good thing we were still in our pajamas because sleep wasn’t far behind dinner.
By Tammy Kimbler
1 1/2 lb pork shoulder
3 large garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 cup rose wine
Make your sausage the day before you want to use it so that the seasonings and wine will have time to infuse the pork with flavor. Cut the pork shoulder into 1/2″ chunks. In a food processor mince the garlic, salt, pepper and chilies. Add the pork shoulder and pulse to chop. When finely chopped, process at full speed and drizzle in the wine. Blend until the sausage is sticky looking and the fat has begun to emulsify with the wine. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Can be eaten fresh within a week or frozen.
By Tammy Kimbler
2 cups semolina flour (or all bread flour)
2 cups bread flour
8 large eggs (best you can get)
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 batch garlic sausage
1/2 onion, minced
3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese (see my link for homemade ricotta here!)
1/4 c grated parmesan
1/4 c grated Romano
salt & pepper to taste
Rustic Tomato Sauce:
2 quarts tomatoes (preferably home-canned)
1 celery stalk
2 gloves garlic
3 tbs olive oil
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
For the pasta, mix flours and olive oil with your fingers until crumbly and oil is distributed. Make a well and crack in the eggs. Beat eggs with a fork, then stir into the flour mixture. Pasta will be stiff. If to stiff, add a few tablespoons of water. Gather dough together and kneed several minutes until smooth. Wrap in plastic and let rest for at least 20 minutes or in the refrigerator up to a day ahead.
For the filling, sauté onion in a little olive oil until soft. Add garlic sausage and cook through. Add cooked sausage mixture to a food processor and process until very fine. Cool. Blend in fresh ricotta and egg and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For sauce, mince the vegetables and sauté in olive oil until soft. Add oregano and tomatoes. Simmer until thick about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper. May be made ahead and heated before serving.
For the ravioli, roll out the pasta dough out on a well floured table in a big circle, as thin as you can get it without it tearing, about 2 feet around or bigger. Spread a 1/3″ layer of filling over half of the dough, leaving a 1/2″ edge clear. Brush with water or egg wash. Fold the pasta over top of the filling, gently pressing out the air pockets and sealing the edges, like a giant calzone. With a ravioli roller or chopstick, press out a grid pattern on your pasta dough making your squares about 1″ square. Press firmly, but not so hard that you tear the dough. With a zigzag ravioli cutter, cut out your squares and transfer them to floured cookie sheets to dry slightly. Makes about 100 ravioli.
To cook the ravioli, bring a big pot of water to boil. Turn down to a simmer and add about 25 ravioli at a time. Cook for 7-8 minutes, depending on how thin your pasta ended up. Thicker pasta takes a bit longer to cook. Test it about 5 minutes. I like it just past al dente for ravioli. Do not boil the water or your ravioli will burst! When done, toss with a little olive oil while you cook the rest.
To serve, place a handful of ravioli in each shallow bowl. Spoon sauce over ravioli and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and a grind of black pepper.
Ravioli are perfect for the freezer! Place them in a single layer on a tray and freeze. Once frozen, load them into a ziplock bag with as much air removed as possible. Cook directly from freezer into simmering water without thawing. May take an extra minute to cook. They are the perfect weeknight dinner.