Pastabilities (or note to self: how to make better ravioli next year or next time)

We’ve had a kind of unofficial family tradition of making ravioli on New Year’s Day for the last four or so years. It’s the sort of thing you can do while hung-over, it gets guests involved (we didn’t have any visitors this year, but Mary has been at the ravioli table in the past), and it makes for a nice meal New Year’s evening.

I think we had some problems this year, and in the interest of reflection in preparation for either next year or just the next time I get in a pasta making mood, here are some things I need to remember:

  • There’s no point in using a food processor to try to make pasta dough; the classic “well method” of flour and eggs mixed together on the board works about as well, it really doesn’t take that long, you have to knead quite a bit by hand even if you do process it first, and it ends up being less mess to clean the board than to clean the processor.
  • About a pound of flour and about four eggs, a little olive oil and a little salt. That’s it.
  • Take your time mixing the dough because it’s going to come together eventually even if it looks like it’s not going to happen. Patience, grasshopper, patience.
  • You can rest the dough while it’s still kind of shaggy-looking because it will come together after it sits in plastic bag for a while. and then you knead it a bit before rolling it out.
  • It’s probably better for the dough to be a bit on the dry-side rather than the wet.
  • It would be worthwhile to price the pasta rolling attachment for the standing mixer.
  • One or two batches of pasta– NOT three.
  • One or two fillings– NOT three.
  • Make sure your fillings are on they dry-side of things.
  • DO NOT over fill the ravioli. I know, it’s annoying to get ravioli that have just a teensy-weensy bit of filling, but burst ravioli are just evil.
  • When preparing pasta for the freezer:
    • Separate layers by wax paper– NOT plastic wrap (plastic sticks)
    • Do NOT use normal paper to label the different kinds of ravioli (regular paper sticks)
    • Do NOT use paper that has any writing on it (paper with writing on it leaves marks on the pasta, kind of like silly putty on newspaper)
  • Enjoy in small servings– they’re rich little suckers.

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