This ravioli recipe is a development of the tagliatelle from my last post. I’ve been tinkering with the flour-to-starch ratio for the tagliatelle for quite some time because there is a delicate balance to be found between enough starch to give the pasta a modicum of elasticity but not too much that it becomes gummy and chewy. I’ve found that you can get away with less starch in a tagliatelle recipe than in a ravioli or tortellini one because you’re not moulding it and if the strands break in half, it really doesn’t matter. I had previously tried using this recipe for tortellini and the pasta just wasn’t playing ball. So I’ve added a bit more cornflour and perhaps a smidgen more water and it seems to work.

Obviously, gluten-free pasta is neither as giving nor as forgiving as its glutenicious cousin. In fact, it can be a temperamental little diva at times, stamping its foot, folding its arms and pursing its lips, so it needs humouring and handling with kid gloves. When forming the ravioli, there are a couple of things to watch out for. When laying the top sheet down over the filling, don’t put the whole sheet down in one go. If you do, you run the risk of it snagging and pulling on the other mounds of filling. Make sure you keep the rest of the pasta strip supported on one hand and only seal one raviolo at a time with the other hand.

You are also supposed to ensure that all the air is extracted because when the ravioli are in the boiling water, the air expands inside them and they run the risk of bursting. The trouble with gluten-free pasta is that the more you prod it and the longer it is in contact with the air and, therefore, drying out, the more likely it is to tear anyway. My advice is to not be too precious about pressing out all the air. Where the pasta is draped over the filling, rather than stretched, there seems to be enough ‘give’ to allow them to expand without bursting.

There should be a large plum-sized ball of dough left over at the end to allow for wastage but you could always make up a little more filling if you like to use it up.

Gluten-free sausage, chilli and fennel ravioli with wild mushroom sauce

Serves 2 generously (makes about 30 ravioli)

For the pasta:
160g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
20g cornflour (cornstarch)
2/3 tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp salt (optional)
2 eggs
1 tbsp olive oil
cold water

For the filling:
1 tsp olive oil
200g gluten-free sausages (I used 3 of The Black Farmer sausages), skins removed
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 medium red chillis, chopped finely or 1-2 tsp Very Lazy Chilli (I used just 1 and it was pleasantly warm but I’d probably use 2 next time to give it a bit more poke)
½ – 1 tsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
1 egg yolk (reserve the egg white for sealing the ravioli)
1 tbsp ricotta

For the sauce:
25g dried porcini
1 tbsp olive oil
20g butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
200g chestnut mushrooms
15g butter, chilled and cubed

To garnish:
Parsley
Parmesan cheese, grated

You will also need a pasta rolling machine and a 5 cm biscuit (cookie) cutter

First, make the filling. Cut the sausage meat into small pieces (I use a pair of scissors) and heat the oil over a low to medium heat in a frying pan. Gently fry the sausage meat for a couple of minutes until lightly coloured. Add the garlic, chilli and crushed fennel seeds and continue frying gently until the sausage is cooked through (another couple of minutes). Take off the heat and allow the mixture to cool. When cooled, place in a food processor with the egg yolk and ricotta and whizz to a rough paste.

Now, make the pasta. Put the dry ingredients into the bowl of the food processor. Blitz for a couple of seconds to mix the flours and break up any lumps. Add the two eggs and the oil. Blitz again to combine and gradually add a little cold water through the funnel until you have a soft dough.

Tip the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and knead into a ball. It should be soft and ever so slightly sticky to the touch*. Now either wrap the ball in clingfilm or return it to the bowl of the food processor and put the lid back on to keep the pasta from drying out.

Working with one small, plum-sized piece at a time, roll the dough out on an unfloured surface with a rolling pin until it is a few millimetres thick. Passing the dough just once through each thickness setting, starting at 2 and ending 5, roll the piece through the machine**. Make sure you carefully support its weight with your free hand. You’re looking for a strip at least 6 or 7cm wide – the length will vary so it doesn’t really matter.

Lay the strip on the work surface and place teaspoonfuls of filling at about 5cm intervals. Using a pastry brush, brush egg white around each spoonful of filling. This will stick the pasta together. Roll another pasta strip to go over the top: starting from the left (I’m right-handed), gently drape and press this pasta strip around the first mound of filling, making sure that it is sealed all the way around. Go on to the next mound of filling and continue until you have used up the pasta strip. Minor tears can be mended by smoothing them over with a little egg white on a pastry brush. Using a biscuit (cookie) cutter, cut the ravioli to shape and gently lift away the surplus pasta. Gently lift the ravioli onto a plate (I use a palette knife to loosen them from the surface). The ravioli can be covered with clingfilm and refrigerated until needed. Scrunch the surplus pasta up again and add to it, if needed to get a plum-sized ball. Reroll and continue making ravioli until all of the filling is used up.

When you are ready to cook the ravioli, put a large pan of salted water on to boil. To make the sauce, put the porcini in a heatproof bowl and add 250ml of boiling water. Leave to soak for about 10 minutes. Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking liquor, and chop. Heat the oil and the first quantity of butter in a large, non-stick frying pan (skillet). Add the chopped onions and fry gently for several minutes until they are pale and translucent. Add the garlic and chestnut mushrooms and continue to cook gently until the mushrooms have softened and have started to release their juices back into the pan (about 4-5 minutes). Add the soaking liquor, making sure you avoid the gritty bits in the bottom of the bowl, and the chopped porcini and allow to bubble away for a couple of minutes. Add the chilled butter cubes to the mushrooms and stir until the sauce becomes glossy. Check for seasoning.

Cook the ravioli in two batches. As soon as you put the ravioli in the boiling water, put the lid of the saucepan on to help the water come back up to the boil quickly and time them for 4 minutes. Scoop them out of the water with a slotted spoon held over a wad of kitchen paper and put in a warmed bowl. Repeat with the second batch. Pour the mushroom sauce over the ravioli and garnish with chopped parsley and grated Parmesan.

 

*If the dough is sticking, flour the work surface and knead the ball of dough. Then break the ball up and return it to the food processor. Blitz into small pieces to distribute the flour more evenly, tip back onto the surface and knead into a ball.  Likewise, if the dough is too hard and dry, break the ball up and return it to the food processor. Blitz into small pieces and add a little more water. Once it has come together again, tip back out onto the work surface and knead.

** The sheet will have slightly raggedy edges. This is to be expected. If there are numerous holes, scrunch the ball of dough up and reroll. If the dough disintegrates as it goes through the rollers, it is probably too dry. See *

 

 

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