Sunday, 3 February 2013

Handmade Venison Ravioli

Venison ravioli
I have made pasta a few times and each time it becomes a little easier with practice. Making fresh egg pasta takes you back to your primary school days and memories of pulling play dough through a machine to make a vaguely monster like model of your mum. This is far more sophisticated, but just as fun! The trick is to allow yourself enough space and perhaps request an extra pair of hands be on standby. Alternatively, why make it difficult! Just split your dough into smaller lumps. Sometimes the best answers are the obvious ones.

Venison is a tasty and healthy alternative to other red meats and that little bit special as something we don't tend to eat often. I went to the local butchers and asked for my venison to be minced. Wild, natural and free range meat with a rich hearty taste makes a luxurious treat for all occasions. 

pasta maker
For this recipe I made 400g of dough but I only probably used 3/4 of it. This is fine as you can freeze your dough or keep it for 2 days fresh and save it for a quick fix another day. Pasta can be rolled by hand too in the same method as below; a much more difficult but rewarding process! You are aiming for 3mm.

Fresh Egg Pasta

300g Pasta flour / 210g "00" flour and 90g semolina flour
6 eggs (medium) 4 yolks, 2 whole eggs
Flour for dusting

1. Sift the flour directly onto a clean and dry work bench. Create a well in the centre and pour in your eaten egg yolks and two eggs.
2. Using your index finger, start to incorporate the dry ingredient into the egg very gradually as you may not need all of the flour to create an elastic dough. Be careful not to use your palms as this will become very messy.
3. Once the egg is completely combined knead the dough on the floured surface for 5 or so minutes to stretch out the gluten.
4. Wrap the pasta in clingfilm and refrigerate for 40 mins to allow it to rest.
5. Now the fun part; place your pasta machine on the corner of a table or work surface and secure it using the clamps. Set the roller at the widest point (No 1) and sprinkle a little flour on and around the path your dough will follow.
6. Divide the dough into four and use lightly floured hands to handle it. Feed a flattened quarter into the machine and catch it at the other side. Fold in three like a pamphlet and then feed it through again. Repeat each setting three times and then move the notch up to No 2 and No 3. Keep the rollers well floured otherwise your dough will get stuck and tear. For ravioli you should continue up to No 5.

Venison filling

This recipe again made slightly more than I needed so could be frozen.

450g minced venison
Medium onion
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tsp tomato puree
200ml red wine
fresh thyme and rosemary
salt and ground black pepper

1. Heat some oil in a pan and fry the onion until translucent, add the garlic and fry for a further minute. 
2. Add the venison and brown the meat. Squeeze in the tomato puree and cook off for 2-3 minutes.
3. Stir in the wine and reduce for a few minutes to cook the alcohol.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes and chopped herbs and simmer until the liquid has almost all evaporated which takes 10-20 minutes.
5. Season to taste and allow to cool a little before using in your pasta.

Now to cut your pasta into circles, one slightly smaller lays flat on a floured surface and a teaspoon of the venison mixture is placed in the centre. A slightly larger disk is cut and gently glued over the top with a little brushed water around the filling. The top disk carefully meets the edges of the lower disk. They look like flying saucers! I was able to make around 20 individual raviolis. You can experiment with different shapes and sizes. Traditionally ravioli is square so I am sure my shape has a more technical name, but the Italian translations are very literal.

Homemade ravioli
I then made a quick tomato sauce with fried onion, garlic, a dash of balsamic, a small box of passata, a little vegetable stock and some seasoning. You could serve your pasta with red or green pesto, a little cream or as traditionally served with a little olive oil.

To cook the ravioli simmer in some gently boiling water for around 5-8 minutes, carefully lowering your treasures in and out the pan. Ensure you drain them well before serving to the plate to avoid a pool of water!

Venison ravioli in tomato sauce

Venison stuffed ravioli

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