The can be no cooking principle more noble than using leftovers. Cold turkey sandwiches on Boxing day are a great treat. Curries always taste better the next day, so we often make double and eat it two days on the bounce. And it seems I am not alone in finding that day-old casseroles make sensational raviolis.
The basic idea is that you take yesterday’s stew, heat it up to reduce it a bit more (which removes unwanted liquid and intensifies flavour), chill it, make it into small balls and wrap that in some home-made fresh pasta. If things get a little dry, then you can add ricotta or another stiff dairy to bring back a bit more workability.
We recently made a spiced duck ragú Venetian style, and applied the above procedure. A store cupboard raid yielded some left-over dried wild mushrooms looking forgotten in their half-used bag. We used that lot to make this cracking ravioli that I have given a nice Italian name.
To make raviolis in a starter size, you will need a large cookie cutter, as you are going to make one large ravioli per person. The recipe here includes the making of a small amount of duck ragú, but what you really want to do is follow our recipe for Venetian duck ragú, have that with some pappardelle, and then make these raviolis with the leftovers. Note that fresh pasta does not keep overnight.
Ravioli d'anatra di Veneta
- For the filling:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 duck leg
- Half an onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Half tsp ground cinnamon
- Half tsp plain flour
- 75ml Italian red wine
- 200g canned chopped tomatoes
- 75ml chicken stock
- 1 rosemary sprig, picked and chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- Quarter tsp sugar
- Half tbsp milk
- For the pasta:
- 75g plain flour
- 25g semolina
- 1 egg
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 egg whisked for brushing
- For the sauce:
- 1 handful of dried wild mushrooms
- 75g butter
- Small handful of pine nuts
- 1 sprig of rosemary, picked and chopped
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the duck legs and brown on all sides for about 10 mins, focussing on crisping that skin.
Remove the duck to a plate and set aside.
Add the onions to the pan and cook for 5 mins until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the cinnamon and flour and cook for a further minute. Return the duck to the pan, add the wine, tomatoes, stock, herbs, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, season, cover with a lid, and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Lift the duck legs out of the sauce with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl. Pull off and discard the fatty skin. Shred the meat with two forks and discard the bones. Add the meat back to the sauce with the milk and simmer, uncovered, for a further 30–40 mins until almost all the liquid has gone. Chill.
While the filling is chilling, make your pasta. Measure the dry ingredients into a bowl. Tip the bowl out onto your surface and use the bottom of the bowl to create a well in the four. Crack the egg into the well and use a dough cutter to gradually chop and work in the eggs to the flour. Once the mixture is gaining nothing from the cutter, use your hands to knead the pasta to the point where a poked finger results in the sprung back pasta ball over less than 10 seconds.
Wrap the pasta ball in clingfilm and chill for 20 mins.
Roll the pasta using a machine into a thin sheet (thinnest setting). Dust your surface with semolina and lay the pasta on it. Find your largest cookie cutter, and use it to determine the size of your raviolis.
Make the filling into four balls with your hands (you will have some left over for another day), and place on the pasta sheet. Brush around the duck balls with whisked egg making sure you cover the with area to be cut out. Fold the pasta over and expel all the air. Press the pasta down to seal and cut out with the cookie cutter. Place the complete raviolis on a semolina-dusted tea towel and fold over to cover until needed.
Soak the mushrooms in cold water for 10 mins, drain, rinse and repeat once.
Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until coloured. Set aside.
Heat the butter in a frying pan taking care not to burn it. Add the mushrooms and rosemary, and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the pine nuts and lemon, and season to taste. Let the sauce cool as you finish the pasta because if you take your eye off it, it may burn.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the raviolis for 2–3 mins. They will float when they are done.
Quickly heat the sauce and arrange the mushrooms and pine nuts around the plates. Hook the raviolis out of the water with a slotted spook and blot with a kitchen towel. Put the raviolis in the centre of the dish, and spoon some of the butter over.