Tordelli (meat, cheese and spinach ravioli)
from Barga, Italy (province of Lucca - in Tuscany)
This is my grandmother's recipe, handed down generation after generation, and probably modified when she moved to the States in the 1920s. It makes a ton, hundreds of ravioli. I kind of make it by eye, as she did. This is my mother's quantification of what she learned from her mother. If you're good with quantities, you might want to try to reduce it to a more reasonable size.
2 pounds ground meat: made up of beef, pork and veal (sometimes they used chicken)
olive oil and butter in equal parts as needed to brown meat
a large handful of flat parsley
a few cloves (2 or 3) garlic
about 3 cups finely chopped blanched spinach or tender swiss chard (Fresh is better, but we used to use frozen chopped and let it defrost - it's not THAT much better in this dish) Drain really well, squeeze out all water
2 cups grated parmigiano
nutmeg (half a tsp or less)
salt and pepper
- Chop onion and parsley finely, and crush the garlic well or pass through a garlic press.
- Heat butter and oil in frying pan till butter melts.
- Add garlic, onion, parsley, meat and salt and black pepper (don't be stingy). Cook slowly, stirring, so all the ground meat is separated and slowly browns. It should have a slight browning all over, not so that it gets hard, however. But the browning adds to the flavor.
- Add well-squeezed spinach or swiss chard and mix well, cooking a few minutes with the other stuff.
- remove from heat and put in a large bowl
- add eggs and grated cheese and nutmeg
This will be put by teaspoonfuls in rows on the ravioli dough, and then you paint around the blobs with a little water, and turn over the top edge so they're all covered, then cut with a pastry wheel and press with a fork all around.
"enough" flour to make a big pile with a hole in the middle (about two pounds, i'm guessing)
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp salt
up to 2 cups water (This is how my mother made it, but i think it probably made way too much pasta - i'd add water as necessary)
- pour flour in a pile (so it's cone-shaped) onto a large wooden board and make a hole in the center.
- Drop the ingredients in this hole or, as it's traditionally called, well, and start mixing it up with a fork trying not to break the "well" by scraping up too much flour. Have more flour at hand if necessary. Or you can do it in your kitchen aid .
- As the batter becomes dough, you start mixing in with a spoon and then your hands, and incorporating more flour as you go until it gets to a consistency that you can knead.
- Knead 20 minutes.
- Let it rest, covered, for an hour.
- cut off manageable pieces and roll very thinly.
- proceed to put teaspoonfuls of filling about 2 inches apart,
- "paint" the area around the mounds of meat filling with water (or sometimes, to save time, i just paint the whole strip before putting the filling on)
- lift the far edge and fold over so the blobs of filling are totally covered with about half inch or so extending, then cut the strip off, press between the mounds and cut between the mounds.
- press the edges with a fork
- put a floured tablecloth on a table and lay them on it to dry out overnight
- refrigerate or freeze for later or boil and eat.
This is how we made meat sauce in my family, which was used on the ravioli, though my grandparents would have preferred to make them smaller and serve in a broth made with both beef and chicken. Both would have had parmigiano passed to put on top.
ground meat (beef and or pork)
a celery stalk
some garlic (two or three)
tomato (since these were usually made at christmas it was always canned. Traditionally families here can their own.)
- chop onion, celery, carrot, garlic
- melt butter in the oil in a saucepan
- brown the meat slowly in the butter and oil with the chopped vegetables and salt and black pepper until nicely browned, stirring so the ground meat is all separated.
- add the tomato and scrape up all the browned meat on the bottom of the pot. \
- cool over slow heat, covered, adding a little water if necessary, for an hour
boil a very large pot of salted water (a fistful of salt for the big pot of water)
Put the ravioli in and cook till they float and test done by cutting one at the edge with a fork and tasting. Drain
get a large ceramic serving bowl or high bordered dish. Put some sauce on the bottom. Layer the ravioli with some parmigiano (be generous) and sauce, and continue to layer till finished.
Bring to the table
This is a very time consuming dish as we used to make it (making double for leftovers and for freezing for easter) and not one that carries good memories with the making. I know, as petals said, that it seems like a nice mother/daughter activity, but sadly it was not. It was always seasoned in intense guilttripping and sighs and no real pleasure in the making. That they still tasted good despite the bitterness surrounding them is a testimony to their quality!!! Some day i'll make it again, but it's not likely to be before the challenge ends. If i do i'll post it. The appearance is no different from any other ravioli, but the taste can't be photographed, alas.