February 16, 2011
Since I needed a break from pumpkin and it is still winter, I decided to experiment with a type of fungi worth its weight in gold (the black, Oregon truffle). So here’s a recipe for all of the mushroom foragers out there.
I am fortunate to be closely associated with the person who runs ediblemushrooms.org, a popular foraging website, and his stellar, truffle-hunting canine, Darvin. The two were generous enough to supply me with about $100 worth of truffles for some culinary adventures, which they were unable to sell due to some unfortunate and accidental freezing in the refrigerator.
Because of the homemade pasta, this recipe requires some basic pasta machinery and works best as a group project. Having just made pasta from scratch for the first time myself, I can say that it can test the patience. You will probably get to a point where you think you’ve totally screwed it up, but just trust me and persevere. If you push through, you’ll find it is pretty much foolproof and the ingredients listed here are dead simple. Since you want to enhance, not cover up the strong flavor of the truffles, I went with a mild ricotta filling and bechamel, white sauce.
Ingredients: 2 cups ricotta, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, 1 cup black shaved truffles* (or very thinly sliced)
This is the easiest part of the recipe. Simply mix the three together in a bowl.
Feel free to use as much or as little truffle as you like since they have a pretty strong flavor. If you don’t have many, you might also consider just sprinkling them raw over the top of your ravioli before serving.
Ingredients: 4 cups flour, 5 eggs
This amount makes enough pasta for 6-8 hungry adults, but a good rule of thumb is 1 egg per 1 cup of flour plus one extra egg.
Forming the Dough
On a large, clean surface create a flour volcano with a crater in the middle and crack your eggs into the crater. Then use a fork to integrate them into the flour as if you were scrambling eggs.
Use your hands to meld the mixture into a dough and add extra eggs if it gets too dry. Once your dough is formed a great deal of kneading and elbow grease is needed to get your dough ready to be worked through the machinery. The idea is to have a few equal sized sections of dough that are solid without many cracks or separations.
Working the Dough
Next you’ll need to crank your dough through the widest setting of your pasta machine. Don’t be afraid to be rough with it at first. The first few times you run it through, you will practically have to jam it in to get it to squeeze through the machine.
If at any point you end up with jagged edges, just fold the pasta sheet in half long-wise and run it through again. Work your way through the settings, getting thinner and thinner until you are on the thinnest or second to thinnest setting. At this point you should have a nice, long, solid sheet of pasta to work with.
Forming the Ravioli
Now scoop about a tbsp or so of filling into little mounds along one side of your pasta sheet and trim them into individual ravioli using a knife.
Fill a small bowl with water, dip your finger in the bowl, then outline the edges of the ravioli to create an adhesive. Fold one side over the other and seal tightly with your fingers. Finish with a fork to create edges and complete the seal.
Boiling the Ravioli
Heat a large pot of salted water and drop ravioli in when there is a rolling boil. Ravioli will float to the top when nearly done, but generally take 8 – 12 minutes to finish. Test one periodically if you are unsure.
Ingredients: 5 tbsp butter, 4 tbsp flour, 4 cups milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
Start your sauce while a helper is working on sealing the ravioli or when the ravioli are in the pot boiling. To begin, melt the butter in a medium skillet and slowly add the flour a tbsp at a time while quickly whisking to create a roux. In a separate skillet warm the milk, but do not boil. Once your roux has a sandy color and smooth consistency, slowly add the milk a ½ cup at a time and let it thicken over medium heat. Add seasonings to taste and ladle over freshly boiled ravioli. Sit down, eat, and enjoy with friends. Your work is done!
* NOTE: If you can’t afford truffles and aren’t fortunate enough to have a truffle hunting pooch of your own, this recipe will work with pretty much any other type of Northwest fungi. For example, chanterelles sauteed with butter, garlic, and an herb of your choice would make a very different, but very delicious substitute.