I hope that everyone celebrating Thanksgiving this past week had a wonderful time doing so. I can safely say this Thanksgiving ranks high in the "best to date" for us. The food was outstanding. The company was delicious. Oh wait. It should be the other way around...As I told B. that evening after a strong cocktail "we had fun and we had fun making fun". That pretty much sums it up.
I live for moments like these. Moments when friends just know that they are going to have a good time, relax and leave their worries behind. When they feel comfortable to dig into the fridge, get out the cutting board and chop away, preparing a delicious meal in a cacophony of pots and pans. I wanted nothing more than great friends around me at the dinner table and I got just that. I'm a very lucky girl.
Thank you Tami, Mike, Broderick and Jack for such a rocking day! As far as time with friends goes, I want days like Thursdays everyday. As far as the food goes, Thanksgiving seems to kick start my desire for comfort food. Perfect for slow simmering dishes such as braises or stews. Perfect for a little ravioli making action on a slower holiday weekend.
I have been meaning to make gluten free ravioli for so long but always found excuses not to. Truth is, I was concerned the taste would not be right and the dough would be too firm and to dry to hold my filling. That was of course until I tried Shauna's and Danny's recipe for gluten free pasta dough in their just released cookbook. So easy to make that you can have a bowl of fresh linguine on your plate in a little time and with minimum effort.
I could have stopped at making simple fresh pasta but one of my favorite vendors at the market, Jason from Meat House always takes care of me with something special. This time it was a nice big lamb beck. I scratched my head for a second, and seeing that he had just derailed my cooking plan for the week, he volunteered preparations and applications. When he said the words "ravioli", my ears stopped listening to any other suggestions.
I remembered seeing the picture for Shauna's ravioli and immediately bookmarking it so once home I started the preparation for the dough and the filling. The beauty of ravioli is that you can fill them with just about everything you like. Right now I am tempted to shred some leftover Thanksgiving turkey with a little spinach and ricotta and do another batch. You could even make them completely vegetarian if you wanted.
We did not peep a word during our meal and ate as slowly as we could to enjoy every bit of it. You know...I might do just that for dinner tonight. Again. The broth is so light and refreshing you'd want to tilt your bowl and slurp...
Braised Lamb Ravioli With Shitake Parsley Broth:
Notes: the combinations of gluten free flours I used differs from Shauna's as I used what was already in my pantry, feel free to substitute also according to your tastebuds and budget.
I like to mix the vegetables used to flavor the stock (mirepoix of carrot, celery and onion) for a few reasons: I hate to waste perfectly good food and it's a good way to sneak in more fiber and veggies into my husband's diet but feel free to use straight meat in the filling.
I know I don't cut my ravioli the most conventional or easiest way. That's my brain working right there. It does not matter how you get there as long as you get there. It's not labeled on the ravioli as you serve them, how they were cut. The taste is what counts.
I did not have a pasta machine to roll the ravioli dough so they were a little thick but still wonderful.
For the braised lamb neck:
2 tablespoons oil, divided (olive or canola)
one 1 pound lamb neck
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 bouquet garni (I did thyme, rosemary, marjoram, peppercorn, coriander seeds in a piece of cheese cloth and dump the whole thing in with the meat)
4 cups beef stock or water
salt and pepper
For the shitake parsley broth:
2 teaspoons oil
1 cup shitake mushrooms thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
Stock from the meat preparation (at least 1 1/2 cups)
In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat one tablespoon oil over medium high heat. Sear the lamb neck on all sides and remove from the pot temporarily.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and add the carrots, celery and onion. Cook until slightly browned and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Return the meat to the pot, add the bouquet garni and enough of the beef stock to reach halfway up the sides of the meat. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer, partially cover with a lid and let the meat braise until fork tender (2-3 hours)adding more stock or water if the levels get critically low.
Remove the meat from the pot, let cool on the side. Drain the liquids from the vegetables in a strainer over a large bowl. Discard the bouquet garni. Refrigerate the stock until most of the fat raises to the top to skim it out. In the meantime, shred the meat from the lamb neck over the vegetables and mix well with your hands or a fork. Adjust the seasoning if needed.
Prepare the sauce:
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium and saute the shitake and garlic for a couple of minutes, add the parsley and the stock. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Keep warm or reheat when ready to serve.
For the ravioli dough, adapted from Gluten Free Girl And The Chef's recipe for gluten free pasta dough:
2/3 cup millet flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
4 egg yolks
Sift together the millet flour, rice flour and potato starch along with the xanthan and guar gums. Add the kosher salt and dump the mixture in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.
By hand, Make a well in the center of the flour mix and dump the egg mixture. Working from the outside in with your hands or a large spoon, gather the flour over the eggs and work your way in until all the flour mix and liquids are mixed in. Gather the dough into a ball and use right away or keep well wrapped in the fridge until ready.
In a stand mixer, place the flours in first then add the egg mixture and mix with the paddle attachment on medium speed until the dough gathers into a ball. Use right away or park in the fridge, well wrapped.
Make the ravioli:
If you are using a pasta machine, divide the dough into four balls and roll them out to 1/2-inch thickness in between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper.
Lightly flour the dough on both sides and run through the machine, increasing the setting each time until the dough is almost paper thin.
If you are making the dough by hand, roll each ball as thin as you can in between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper.
Cut the rolled out pasta into 2-inch square pieces. Add about 2 teaspoons of the meat filling in the middle. Brush the edge of the square with a little water and place another square right on top, press down and drimp the edges with a fork. You can also use a ravioli cutter to make your life easier.
Place a large stock pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil, add the ravioli and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoons and place in a serving dish. Reheat the shitake parsley sauce if necessary, pour it over the ravioli and serve.