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Making your own pasta isn’t as tricky as you might think; in this recipe the richness of the egg pasta is balanced by sharp ricotta and fresh herbs, writes Laura Paton
In Italy, far from being reserved for the upper echelons of society, game is an ingredient that is available to all. An unwavering part of the country’s culture, family recipes for stracotto di fagiano (pheasant stew) and coniglio alla cacciatore (hunter’s rabbit) are passed from mother to daughter, down through the generations. So commonplace is the hunting and eating of game that, in rural regions, children look on with excitement and without squeamishness as the day’s quarry is skinned, gutted and cleaned.
A few simple ingredients are all that are needed to make the flavour of partridge really sing. In this ravioli recipe, spinach and herbs give freshness and the sharp ricotta balances the richness of the egg pasta nicely, making this dish a sure-fire hit with partridge – and pasta – lovers alike.
Verdant with fresh herbs, the ravioli stuffing is redolent of the green and pleasant land you’ll (hopefully) be shooting over; the promise of a bountiful season ahead wrapped up in each golden pocket.
Admittedly, making your own pasta isn’t as easy as opening a packet, but it is a lot more satisfying, and it’s actually no more difficult than making pastry. Plus, you don’t need any fancy kit to end up with pasta you can be truly proud of. By all means, dust off that Christmas present hiding at the back of the cupboard, but a trusty rolling pin and a bit of elbow grease will get the job done just as well without the need for any gadgetry.
Partridge, spinach and ricotta ravioli with sage butter
Serves 4 (makes 20 ravioli)
For the pasta:
? 300g ‘00’ flour
? ½ tsp salt
? 2 large eggs, plus 3 large egg yolks
? 2 tsp olive oil
For the filling:
? 4 x cooked partridge breasts, skin removed (approx. 200g)
? 250g ricotta
? 100g cooked spinach, squeezed dry
? 50g parmesan, finely grated
? 2 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
? small bunch of parsley
? a grating of nutmeg
? salt and pepper
? a squeeze of lemon juice
? 1 egg, beaten
For the sage butter:
? 100g unsalted butter
? 3 or 4 sage leaves
1. Sift the flour and salt onto a large, clean surface. Make a well in the centre. Beat together the eggs, egg yolks and olive oil and pour into the well.
2. Using the fingertips of one hand, gradually draw the flour into the centre to create a dough. As you draw in more flour, the dough will become less sticky. If it becomes a little dry, add a splash of water.
3. Form into a firm ball and knead for five minutes, or until smooth. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, place the ingredients for the filling in a blender and blend until smooth. (Alternatively, finely chop the partridge breasts and spinach, place in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined.)
5. Once chilled, cut the pasta dough in half and roll into two long strips, using either a rolling pin or a pasta machine. The dough needs to be rolled as thin as possible (down to the lowest setting on a pasta machine).
6. Dot 10 piles of filling mixture along one side of each pasta strip at equal intervals, and brush around the filling with water. Fold the pasta over and press around the filling to expel any air. Using a pastry cutter, cut into 20 ravioli.
7. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Drop in the ravioli and cook until they float to the top. Drain. (You may need to do this in batches.)
8. Melt the butter in a small pan. Toss in the sage leaves. When the leaves begin to colour, the flavoured butter is ready.
9. Drizzle the sage butter over the ravioli. Serve with freshly grated parmesan and plenty of freshly-ground black pepper.
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