The next of my new cookbooks is SPQR: Modern Italian Food and Wine. The first recipe I chose to make from it really jumped out at me - Ricotta and Quail Egg Ravioli. For starters, I've always wanted to make ravioli filled with an egg yolk. It seems like a fun challenge. Working gently with the dough so as to keep the delicate yolk intact. Cooking the ravioli just enough so that when pierced with a fork, the warm liquid yolk spills across the plate. But also, a photo of the ravioli adorned the cover of the book. Can't go wrong making the recipe that was chosen to represent the book.
Unfortunately, my wish to make a yolk-filled ravioli still goes unfulfilled! I scoured Austin for quail eggs and came up empty. Whole Foods, Central Market, farmer's markets, Asian grocers. Nothing. But since I already had all the other ingredients, I decided to forge ahead and do without.
I've made a few pasta doughs in my lifetime, but my go to dough for fresh pasta is Thomas Keller's (See here for example). It's silky and rich and 60% of the time it works every time. Seriously though, the recipe has never failed me, though it is an intense forearm workout from the 20+ minutes of kneading. SQPR's recipe, however, is quite different from Thomas Keller's. For comparison:
Thomas Keller's Pasta Dough
1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
6 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon milk
SPQR's Pasta Dough
250 grams (~2 cups) 00 flour
2 grams (½ tsp) salt
9 grams (2 tsp) water
SPQR's dough is significantly drier. It's about the same amount of flour (albeit a different type) and yet there is much less liquid added to the dough. It shows in the preparation too. In SPQR's recipe, the ingredients are combined in a stand mixer and then only kneaded by hand for a few minutes, compared to the 20+ minutes of hand kneading in Thomas Keller's recipe. And it was a struggle to knead SPQR's dough even that long, as it was very firm. After 30 minutes of rest on the counter top, it had hydrated to a pliable state that was able to be rolled out, but it felt nowhere near as smooth as TK's. And yet, the end product was everything you want fresh pasta to be. It came out great. I guess there is no one true way to make fresh pasta.
As for the rest of the dish, the filling for the ravioli is simple enough, drained ricotta is mixed with an egg, fontina cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. After assembling the ravioli, they are boiled for 2 to 3 minutes, topped with sauteéd onion, garlic and cavolo nero, sprinkled with fontina cheese and then briefly broiled. The dish is then finished with barro fuso (essentially a buerre blanc), a drizzle of olive oil, and a grind or two of black pepper. An excellent dish, even absent the quail egg yolks.
Facebook for a few more photos.