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Requesón and Cilantro Ravioli

31 Jan

Stuffed pastas have been with us since they were brought from northern Italy in medieval times. In the book, The Geometry of Pasta by Jacob Kenedy and Caz Hildebrand, it is written that there are numerous claims and legends to the invention of Ravioli. It is claimed that they developed from manti under Arab influence from the invasion of Sicily in the 1100’s. Genoa holds a claim, insisting that the name derives from the word rabilole, or “thing of little value”, which refered to the meals of the sailors, who turned scraps of leftovers into an entire meal of pasta. It is also said that the name could also derive from the word rabbiola, or “root vegetable”, ricotta and vegetable dumplings wrapped in turnips tops. With the most likely scenario being simply from the Italian avvolgere, or “to wrap”. Wherever their origin, there is little argument in the fact that the ravioli has taken its place as the undisputed king of Italian stuffed pastas.

Requeson and Cilantro Ravioli in a Tomato Poblano Sauce

Those of you that have read my About page know that the very first memory that I have actually helping my father in the kitchen was with making the ravioli on New Years morning. Ravioli was our  traditional New Years dish, and we had gluttonous eating contests every year to find who could eat the most ravioli. Our ravioli were not your typical ravioli, they seemed to be at least twice the size of normal ravioli, filled with ground beef, ground pork, ground veal, spinach, ricotta, romano and parmesan cheese. They were atomic weapons to your midsection, but my God, were they delicious!

My MexItalian spin on my fathers ravioli is not quite as nuclear, but I have incorporated some flavors of my past with some flavors of my present to bring what I think is a lighter, more interesting version of classic Italian ravioli! The pasta dough, for those with food allergies, is egg-free, as is the filling. The filling, which was inspired by Rick Bayless’s Ricotta-Stuffed Ancho Chiles with Red Wine Escabeche, uses requesón, which is a latin version of ricotta cheese, you can either make it at home in your kitchen, or you can cheat like me and buy a deli-fresh ricotta, do not substitute with the store-bought ricotta.  The effort involved with this dish is a bit intensive, but the finished product is so delicious that you will easily forget! Buen Provecho!

Requeson and Cilantro Ravioli in a Butter and Garlic Sauce

Requeson and Cilantro Ravioli in a Butter and Garlic Sauce

Requesón and Cilantro Ravioli

Pasta Dough

  • 1 cup Semolina
  • 1 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2/3 cup warm water

Filling

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro (loosely packed)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 16 oz. Fresh Requeson or Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper
  • Salt  to taste
  1. Roast the garlic cloves on a comal or iron skillet until nice and soft, once they are cool, peel and mash in a bowl with a fork.
  2. Wash and dry the cilantro, be sure to dry very well, as you do not want to add any liquid to the filling, then chop the cilantro.
  3. Let the Requeson or ricotta drain in a colander or sieve for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Combine the garlic, ricotta, cilantro, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in a mixing bowl and mix well, season with the salt and pepper.
  5. Cover and place in fridge to chill.
  6. Combine the two flours and sift together to combine.
  7. Mound the flour in the center of the countertop or a large wooden cutting board.
  8. Make a well in the center of the flour (I make a volcano!)
  9. Add a little water at a time, stirring with your hands until you form the dough.
  10. As you continue to add water, be sure to keep the volcano shape by pushing the flour up along the sides as well.
  11. Keep adding the water until you have a shaggy mass. At this point, more than half of your flour should be incorporated. The dough should feel elastic and just a bit sticky.
  12. I add a bit more water and then start kneading using the palm of your hands.
  13. Once the dough is one mass, continue kneading for about 5 minutes. Keep dusting with flour if necessary.
  14. Wrap with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
  15. Attach the pasta roller to your Kitchen Aid mixer and put it on the widest setting (1).
  16. After the dough has rested, cut in half and form a small rectangle about 1 inch thick.
  17. Put the mixer speed on 2 and feed the dough through the roller. Each time dusting a bit with flour and folding to get the best separation. I usually need to feed it through at this setting about 5 or 6 times, each time dusting and folding.
  18. Continue and feed the sheet through each setting until you get to setting 5, at this time you have the proper thickness for the sheet.
  19. I usually cut the sheet into a length no larger than the width of my countertop, so cut the sheet after about 1 meter portions.

    Pasta Sheets

    Each Sheet of Pasta is about 1 Meter in Length

  20. Continue this process with the rest of the dough.
  21. Starting with one sheet, brush off any flour from the top of the sheet and take your filling out of the fridge. Measure one scant tablespoon of filling and place it along the center of the sheet about every 6 inches. Continue placing a tablespoon every six inches until you get to the end of the sheet. You want enough filling in each ravioli to have a nice shape, but not so much that you will have trouble sealing the edges of the pasta.

    Ravioli Filling

    Filling on the bottom sheet

  22. Mist with some water for adhesion.
  23. Place another sheet over the top and slightly flatten each pocket of filling, then start with gentle pressure to press out any air and to form a seal around and between each pocket of filling.
  24. Once all the air pockets have been removed and each pocket of filling is nicely formed, you can cut each ravioli using a cookie cutter, a pastry roller, or a ravioli cutter.
  25. Place the ravioli in a single layer on a cookie sheet dusted with semolina. At this point, if you want to freeze the ravioli for later, place the entire cookie sheet into the freezer. Once the ravioli has frozen, you can remove the pasta and put them into bags.

    Ravioli

    Ravioli made and ready to cook!

Tomato Poblano Sauce

  • 5 medium vine ripe tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 chile poblanos
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Roast the poblanos over a open flame or in the oven, then remove the stems, seeds, and veins and place in a blender.
  2. Quarter the tomatoes and place in the blender.
  3. Puree the tomatoes and poblanos.
  4. Put 3 tablespoons of the olive oil into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Crush the garlic with the back of a knife and fry with the red pepper until it just begins to color.
  5. Remove the garlic and pour the contents of the blender and quickly fry for about a minute.
  6. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for about 20 minutes or until the water is slightly reduced and the tomatoes no longer have that “raw” taste.
  7. Apply a liberal amount of salt and pepper to season, and finish with the rest of the olive oil.

    Requeson and Cilantro Ravioli

    Requeson and Cilantro Ravioli in a Tomato Poblano Sauce

Tostadas de Salpicón

25 Jan Tostada de Salpicon

Of all the places that I have been in Mexico City, by far, my favorite is Coyoacan. Coyoacan is a town of legends inside Mexico City. It was the headquarters of Hernán Cortés as he completed his conquest of Mexico, it was home to the great Mexican artist Diego Rivera, and the birthplace of Frida Kahlo. The name Coyoacan comes from Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs) and most likely means “place of coyotes”.

Coyoacan

Coyoacan

What makes this place so special to me is that it is inside the urban sprawl of Mexico City, yet it still keeps its small town charm and colonial architecture. Coyoacan provides one with a brief escape from the city, but still sits inside of the city! Walking along the cobblestone streets of the town center, or el centro, you can smell the cinnamon flavors of the buñuelos, the caramel and sweet doughnut-like churros. One of my favorites is the rich, beautiful, and delicious smells of the fresh roasted coffee beans as you pass by Café el Jarocho! Just a bit further down the street is the Mercado Coyoacan…

 Inside this market there is a place called Tostadas Coyoacan.  It is a must-stop destination everytime we go to Coyoacan. This stall has large platters of almost any topping for a tostada you could think of, seafood, beef, chicken, pork, they have it all. I usually get three of my favorties, one of pata de rés (pickled beef feet), one of tinga (chicken in a chipotle -tomato sauce), and one of salpicón de rés.

Tostadas Coyoacan

Tostadas Coyoacan

Salpicón is essentially a beef  “salad” that is great as a topping for tostadas and especially easy to prepare.  Salpicon is not uniquely a Mexican dish, as salpicón is served throughout Central and South America, but the Mexican version does have its own unique ingredients, mainly the chile jalepeños, you will even find different versions of salpicón in each region of Mexico. I love this version, which I have adapted from a version of pata de rés that my mother-in-law  taught me.

Tostadas de Salpicon

  • 2 lbs. Skirt Steak
  • ½ head of garlic
  • ½ onion quartered
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • ½ red onion sliced
  • 10-12 cilantro stems tied together with butchers twine.
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ cup of La Costena Green Pickled Jalepeno Peppers, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • Tostadas Charras

Garnish

  • Romaine Lettuce sliced
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa Roja
  • Queso Fresco or Queso Cotija
  • Sliced Avocado
  1. Fill a stockpot filled with about 3 quarts of water, take the skirt steak and cut into quarters and put in the pot with the garlic, onion, peppercorns, bay leaf, cilantro stems, and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 40-45 minutes over low heat. Let meat cool in broth once done.
  2. Once meat is cool, take from broth and shred by hand with the grain, so that the shredded meat is in long strands and place in a mixing bowl.
  3. Slice the onion and put into the mixing bowl with the fresh cilantro, oregano, chiles, and salt to taste.
  4. Whisk the olive oil and red wine vinegar together in a separate bowl, then dress over the meat.
  5. Toss well to incorporate, cover and put in the fridge.
  6. Prepare the garnishes and the salsa.
  7. To make the tostada, spoon a bit of cream on a tostada, serve some of the salpicón on top of the cream, garnish with some shredded lettuce, salsa roja, and a few slices of avocado.

 

Salsa Roja

  • 6-8 Fresno Chiles
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh cilanto (the leaves only)
  • 1 peel of Onion
  • Salt
  1. Roast the chiles, garlic, and tomato on a comal or iron skillet until the tomato skins char slightly and begin to release their juices and the chiles are nicely charred and soft as well.
  2. Remove the seeds, stems, and membranes from the chiles and place in a food processor or blender.
  3. Quarter the tomato and place in with the chiles
  4. Peel the garlic, wash the cilantro and place in with the tomatoes and chiles.
  5. Finally, put the peel of onion (half an onion and take off a single layer of the onion) into the blender.
  6. Pulse the blender or the food processor until the salsa is the desired consistency (I like a loose, paste-like salsa. If you want it with a bit more liquidity, try a squeeze of lime instead of water!)
  7. Season with salt to taste.

 

Tostada de Salpicon
Tostada de Salpicon