The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a “what the hell” attitude – Julia Child.
I love this quote. Not just as it pertains to cooking, but as it can be applied to life in general. This past weekend though, it was fully applied to cooking when my friend and I attempted to make pasta from scratch for the first time. There were some high points, some low points, and definitely some “what the hell” points.
My friend, Dave, and I are equally passionate about cooking and good food. We bounce recipe ideas off one another and are often passing edible gifts and creations back and forth. But, we don’t often get together to cook. I think the last time was over a year ago when he finally shared his butter chicken recipe with me. We spent the day making that, as well as a couple other Indian recipes.
This time around, we went Italian and made two types of ravioli. Making pasta from scratch is kind of a cooking bucket list item for me, yet it always seems to get put off. In part, because I find the whole idea intimidating, but also because it seems like a lot of work and mess. On the one hand, it was, but the satisfaction of knowing you can and did make it yourself, is a pretty awesome feeling. And, even with a mis-step or two along the way, Dave and I ended up making a pretty kick-ass meal for our families.
We started by braising the short rib with a little red wine, thyme and garlic. I always think of braised short rib as some complicated fancy dish reserved for restaurant ordering. It’s not. In fact, it’s probably one of the easiest meals to prepare. All it takes is time and a couple of ingredients.
Braised Short Rib
2 tbsp olive oil
2 Lbs short ribs, seasoned with salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, rough chopped
small handful fresh thyme
1 – 1 1/2 Cups red wine
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit
In an oven-proof pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the short ribs and sear all sides. Once the meat is seared, add in the wine, garlic and thyme. Cover, place in the oven and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat should be easily pulled from the bone.
Once the short rib was in the oven, we were free to start on the pasta, sip some wine and chat about life. Making pasta seemed like a daunting task, but in this type of setting, it was actually pretty relaxing, even with a couple of hiccups. We started by using a recipe out of the Dirty Apron Cookbook, although had to substitute some of the flour based on what we could get our hands on. Whether this was what caused the problem or not, it quickly became apparent that whatever we had mixed up was not going to be rolling out into pasta dough. It was basically a flour-y ball as hard as a rock. So, the tweaking began. We added two more eggs to the mix, which allowed us to break up the rock-like mass, but again, we didn’t have anything that resembled dough. Now we had a bowl of goop. Back to the flour, adding in a sprinkle at a time, until finally we started to form dough. From there we were able to make our ravioli, problem free. Here is the recipe for the dough we eventually ended with.
3 Cups tipo “oo” flour
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water (if needed)
Place the flour in a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Crack the eggs into the well and add the olive oil. Lightly beat the eggs and oil together using a fork. Continuing to use the fork, start mixing in small amounts of the flour mixture, until it’s completely incorporated or you can no longer use the fork to mix. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and knead it for about 5 minutes. The dough is ready when you are able to pinch the dough and it no longer sticks to your fingers.
*If the find the dough too dry or too wet, add in a little water (dry) or flour (wet), a tiny amount at a time, until you have your desired consistency*
Split the dough in half, wrapping one half in plastic wrap. With the unwrapped half, begin rolling out the dough. If you have a pasta machine, you’ll want to eventually roll it out on the lowest setting. We didn’t have a pasta machine, so we rolled our dough out by hand until we felt it was thin enough. Place the rolled sheets on a wax paper lined baking sheet, with a layer of wax paper between each sheet, then cover the whole pan with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use. Unwrap the second half of the dough, and begin rolling again.
Once the short rib is ready, shred the meat and place in mounds every few inches along one sheet of the dough. Cover with a second sheet. Cut between the mounds, leaving about 1/4″ on all sides. Seal the edges by pressing them together with your fingers.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli and cook for about 3 minutes, until it rises to the surface.
The final piece to our recipe was the mushroom sauce. With just a few ingredients, we came up with a rich, lightly creamy sauce that was perfect to pour over our ravioli.
1 tbsp olive oil
2 Cups mushrooms, roughly chopped or sliced.
1/2 Cup shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Cup short rib drippings
1/2 Cup heavy cream
salt to season
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic and shallot. Cook about 10 minutes, until nice and soft. Add in the drippings, and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, the slowly stir in the cream. Continue simmering for about 15 minutes, until thickened. Serve over the ravioli.