A rainy day is the perfect time to get out the pasta machine and your biggest Le Creuset pot and make a beautiful batch of fresh pasta and ragu. I'll often make a double batch of ragu and freeze some to pull out as dinner after a busy day. Italian "fast food"!
This ragu has a 50/50 mix of beef and pork mince for ultimate flavour. You could skip the tortelli filling and make wide strips of pasta instead, but this is worth investing the extra time and the kids are fantastic and creating the little tortelli. Teach your children to make pasta too - they can turn the handle from the age of about 2, and will graduate to eventually make you dinner!
Potato and Ricotta Tortelli with Ragu
Serves 10 for an entree
Ingredients for ragu
- 4 tblsp olive oil
- 400gm beef mince
- 400 g pork mince
- sea salt and pepper
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 large carrot, finely diced
- 1 lge stick of celery, finely diced
- 1 stick rosemary, picked and chopped
- 2 anchovies chopped
- 600 gm crushed Italian tomatoes
Heat a large heavy based pot with half of your oil and leave to get hot. Add in the beef and pork mince and allow to brown well, no need to stir it, but watch carefully so that it doesn’t burn. Once it has caramelised well, season with sea salt and white pepper, and then turn your mince and allow to brown on the other side, ensuring to break up any clumps that may have formed. Once the mince is really well browned and all broken up, deglaze it with your wine, allow to reduce for a minute and then remove the mince from your pot.
Place the pot back on a medium heat and add in the remaining olive oil and leave to get hot, then add in your mirepoix of chopped vegetables and season with some sea salt, leave to cook on a lower heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently so that the vegetables caramelise, then add in the rosemary, anchovies and mince and stir to combine.
Now add your tomato with 1 cup of water and leave to simmer on a low heat for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. You will need to add more water during this period, so just add half a cup of water as needed so that it doesn’t stick. Taste to check your seasoning and adjust salt and pepper if needed and before turning it off, ensure that all the water has evaporate so that it is thick
Potato and Ricotta Filling
- 650g royal blue potatoes
- 500g ricotta, hung (Bordello brand)
- 1 small egg
- sea salt and white pepper
- 70 g grated parmesan, grated
- ½ fresh nutmeg, grated
Place the potatoes in a pot with plenty of cold water covering them, bring the water to the boil and cook potatoes until they are cooked, test them with a skewer or knife. Once cooked remove from the water and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Using a potato ricer, mash the potato into a bowl and then mix in all the other ingredients and check the seasoning.
Fresh Pasta Dough
- 700 gm 00 flour, or plain flour
- 5 gm cooking salt
- 7 large eggs
In a large bowl place the flour and salt, whisk the eggs in a separate bowl. Combine the eggs with the flour and with your hands mix to form a dough. Add a little water if it feels dry and isn't combining nicely. Place the ball of dough onto a floured bench and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the dough has formed a nice smooth constituency, cover with glad wrap and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes (not in the fridge).
Divide the pasta into six portions. Using a rolling pin, roll out a portion of dough so that it will fit through the widest setting of your pasta machine. Pass through this wide setting 5 times, continually folding edges into a neat rectangle. After this reduce the setting by one each time and pass the pasta through once on each setting, lightly flouring the pasta if it is becoming a little sticky. Keep reducing the setting 1 level at a time and using a paring knife, trim the edges so that you keep it a uniform shape. Once the pasta reaches about 25-30 cm on about the fourth or fifth setting cut the pasta sheet in half and continue feeding it through until you hit the second last setting it should be number 7. Feed it through one time and you should have a sheet of pasta about 8-10 cm wide and 20 cm long. Set aside on a lightly floured tray with a tea towel resting on the top. Once you have rolled out half the pasta, start the filling process.
To make the filled tortelli, lay one sheet of the pasta out and then place about a heaped teaspoon of filling and place in the top left hand corner of your pasta sheet and then place another one underneath, leaving a gap at each side edge and a gap in the middle, then place your next filling leaving about 3 cm of space between each one and continue to do this until you have come to the end of the pasta sheet. Then place another sheet of pasta on the top. Then using your hands, press down the pasta around each of the filling and also around all the edges. Using your pasta cutter or paring knife, cut your tortelli into squares and then individually pick them up and squeeze them gently which will squeeze out any air. Place each tortelli on a well floured tray. Repeat this process until you have rolled out all of the pasta and used the filling.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and then turn it down to a simmer, carefully place your tortelli in, leave to cook, they should be ready after about 4- 6 minutes, taste one to check that the pasta is ready and then using a slotted spoon, remove them into a sieve. Serve your tortelli covered with your ragu and some shaved parmesan.