Ravioli Bolognese Home Made

Jamie Oliver's latest cookbook, Comfort Food, came in the mail with the suggestion for us to try out a few recipes.
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While the recipes and descriptions gave us goosebumps ("... it's about smells, sounds, and tastes. It's about recipes that really hit the spot at a certain time and have the capacity to pull out explicit feelings and old memories, as well as creating new ones and passing that joy on to the next generation."), the introduction was rather discomforting: "Most of the recipes aren't super-fast, nor are they for everyday cooking ..."! Great. "I want to bring you to the next level now, to the nth degree." Jeez. It looked like we were in for a steep learning curve and a bumpy ride - but at the very least for some yummy food.

To ease ourselves into this madness we chose to start with homemade ravioli. At least we had an idea of what we were shooting for and we’ve always wanted to learn how to make our own pasta. So this is how it went:

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We went to the butcher to get the real deal no-antibiotics grass-fed happy meat for this one. 1 lb of ground beef and 1 lb of ground pork.

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We fried it all up in some olive oil and salt, and pepper and gave it about 20 minutes.

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In the meantime we cut up 2 sticks of celery, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 huge onion, and 2 carrots.

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Lily figured out how to get some see-saw action going with her knife to get all the veggies into tiny pieces and was so excited that she exclaimed in German "I am a real cook! (Ich bin eine echte Köchin)"

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We added the veggies to the meat for another ten minutes.

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Next we added a 3/4 cup of Chianti , 24 oz of canned plum tomatoes, and a quarter of a big tomato can worth of water,

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brought it to a boil, and let it simmer for a whole hour.

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To round it off, when sauce had turned super-thick and had cooled down, we added 3 3/4 oz of Parmesan.

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While the sauce was simmering and not needing our attention we turned to the pasta dough: 3 cups of  Tipo 00 flour (we couldn't find any and used super fine flour instead; in the meantime we heard that we might find the real deal at Whole Foods), 1/2 cup of fine semolina,

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12 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 4 tablespoons of cold water.

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With a fork Lily mixed up all the goodies, slowly adding flour from the sides.

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When the fork finally got stuck she went in with her bare hands.

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And when that got to hard Papa had to finish it up, kneading the dough for about four minutes. We added just about another tablespoon of water to get a consistency that felt right - not too wet, nor too dry.

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We were so proud of the final product that we decided to recreate Jamie's picture in the book. We wrapped the dough in plastic wrap for half an hour. Somewhere else it said that those 30 minutes allows the flour to fully absorb all the moisture.

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When the wait was over we separated the dough into four balls and

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placed them into a damp kitchen towel, concentrating on one at a time.

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For ease we halved each ball as we retrieved it from the towel and rolled it out with a rolling pin.

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Then we guided the dough through a pasta machine, starting at the thickest setting and repeating the process going thinner a couple of notches.

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Then we folded the strip over and started from the beginning, getting down to about 1/16th of an inch.

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After a couple of times of re-folding and thinning the strip down, it had filled out the width of the machine, creating a nice and straight band that we thinned at the final step to about a 1/32nd thickness.

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Next we placed heaping teaspoons worth of our our thick Bolognse sauce on the strip, about 2 1/2 inch on center.

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Then we folded the strip length-wise and pushed it down around the dollops of meat, wetting our fingers in a glass of water.

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We cut the strip into 2 1/2 inch pieces,

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pressing down the edges. In the book you can see Jamie using this cool jaggedy rolling knife to create  postage-stamp-type edges.
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We kept repeating this until all the pasta dough was used up. Getting the pasta machine to spit out picture perfect strips took some trial and error. Another thing we learned was not to stack the raviolis on a pile as we are showing in the picture. Instead we should have kept them apart and lightly floured with the semolina. We ended up having a bunch of them stick together. 

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Now came the easiest, most light-hearted part. The sauce.
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We cut up 4 cloves of garlic and just a little of a chili pepper, so as not to upset the girls' developing palettes.
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We gently fried them up for a few minutes in olive oil and then

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added  42 oz of canned plum tomatoes. All this we brought to a boil and let it simmer for ten minutes before we whizzed it up with an immersion blender.

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In the meantime we started a big pot of salted water and got it to boil.

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We cooked our raviolis for only three minutes. A couple of them were left in the water for too long and decide to fall apart. A few minutes is all they needed.

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We transferred the raviolis to the sauce and then served them with fresh basil leaves and freshly grated Parmesan. Voila! Not bad, huh? We learned a few new swear words along the way but came out super proud. Our first home made pasta and real Raviolis at that.

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While we couldn't quite match the good looks from the master chef's creation, we were absolutely stunned at the taste. We all decided that it was the best pasta we ever ate. Both dough and sauce. The book says it serves 8 - 10, but we got quite close to licking the pot clean. Nobody knew how to stop.
Needless to say, promises were not broken. Memories were made and some real comfort food enjoyed.