Ricotta Ravioli with Brown Butter, Lemon and Capers
The saying goes that if you ask 10 chefs how to roast a chicken, you’ll get 10 different answers. This too applies to making ravioli. All across the Italian peninsula you’ll find this iconic stuffed dish made in various shapes and fillings, served in an array of broths and sauces, and even called different names depending on the region of origin and local traditions. While some meat fillings simmer for hours, even days, so the flavors can mingle together until perfect harmony and complexity is reached, this basic ricotta filling is one of the simplest to quickly pull together.
As the dish is only as delicious as it’s ingredients, be sure to buy the highest quality of ricotta available. Look for dense whole milk ricotta that almost crumbles when pricked with a fork. If all you can find are smooth, creamy versions then use an ultra fine cheese cloth to strain the ricotta and release its liquid. A compact filling will hold up better during the cooking process and give your teeth something to bite into.
For the dough:
Attach the dough hook to a stand mixer and add the flour, salt and eggs. Mix for 4-5 minutes until the mixture comes together as a ball. When the dough is homogenous and smooth, wrap it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Alternatively you can knead by hand for 10-15 minutes.
For the filling:
Drain the ricotta in a ultra fine cheesecloth for 15 minutes. Add the drained ricotta to a bowl and stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano, nutmeg and salt and black pepper to taste. Now add the egg yolk and stir to combine. Add the filling to a ziptop bag or pastry bag. Refrigerate.
Rolling the dough:
Attach the pasta roller accessory to the stand mixer. Divide the dough into 4 pieces, press them into flat rectangles. Flour each side well. Pass one of the pieces through the machine on speed 1 on no.0. Fold the ends towards each other and pass it through again. Continue to pass the dough through, reducing the thickness from no. 0 to 7. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a well floured surface.
Forming the ravioli:
Put a sheet of pasta on a lightly floured surface. Use a pastry cutter to cut off the ends so they are even. Fold the sheet along its midline to make a light crease and re-open. Cut off the tip of the ziptop or pastry bag and squeeze out a walnut sized ball of filling about a finger’s width apart along the length of the lower half. Use a pastry brush or dip your fingers in water and moisten the upper half of dough. Fold the dough over the filling and use your pinkies on each side of the filling to press out the air the pat down around each filling to seal. With a fluted pastry cutter, cut a square around each filling. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and taste. When it tastes like the sea it’s ready for the pasta. Cook the ravioli in the boiling water for 3 minutes. In the meantime, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add the capers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter browns; about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and parsley.
Once the ravioli are cooked, reserve a 1/2 cup of pasta water, drain and add the ravioli to the skillet with the capers and butter. Incorporate ¼ cup of the pasta water and cook over high heat until the butter and pasta water emulsify in a creamy sauce; about 1-2 minutes. Toss with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and serve. Buon appetito!