It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is only two (!!!) days away from today–which means that all the related cooking and baking is also right around the comer. Serving pasta on such an American holiday may seem misplaced at first glance, but rest assured it's an Italian-America tradition to pair the turkey and its accompaniments with complex macaroni dishes. Ravioli, meat- or cheese-filled, will always be a special treat–while they're not the easiest to assemble though the whole process really isn't as hard as it looks.
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
1 tsp nutmeg (or to taste)
1/2 tsp allspice (or to taste)
salt and pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil
1. Sweat onion, garlic, carrot and celery in oil, then add beef and cook through.
2. Drain fat from beef and add to a food processor with remaining ingredients. Pulse until smooth.
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
5 large eggs
1. In a bowl beat eggs and a pinch of salt. Add flour a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Then, knead the dough until smooth, soft and pliable.
2. To roll the dough: Set the rollers of a pasta machine at their widest setting. Cut off a piece of dough about the size of a large egg and flatter under the palm of your hand. Dust the flattened piece of dough lightly with flour and run it once through the machine. Fold the dough in half and run it through the machine again. Repeat this step three to four times, or until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Adjust the rollers to the next smaller setting and run the dough through once; do not fold the dough again. Continue to adjust the rollers and roll the pasta through the machine until it reaches desired thinness.
3. Lay the pasta sheet on a floured surface. Place meat mixture dollops about 2 inches apart and place/fold the unused portion of the dough sheet over the half with the meat. Press out all the air from around the meat and press down lightly to seal. Cut into squares.
4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully add the ravioli to the pot and stir. When ravioli float to the top they are about ready (around 7 minutes). Serve with tomato sauce and grated cheese.
I've heard a lot of buzz about a new restaurant specializing in meat pies that recently opened in Times Square. While I haven't ventured there yet, in every interview its owners ramble on and on about how thrilled they are to be bringing authentic Australian meat pies to the city. It's all a bit patronizing–this is New York after all, a place not exactly known as a culinary vacuum–but since I hate to miss out on a food phenomenon I dug out a meat pie recipe I already know, a Middle Eastern version laden with the bright flavors of lamb, lemon, and tomato. They're perfect on their own as a snack and with a salad they become a great light dinner. Just a heads-up: they're addictive right out of the oven.
1 pizza dough (my recipe here)
1 pound ground lamb
1 medium onion, chopped very fine
1 28-oz. can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup pine nuts
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lemon juice