Ingredients for Filling:
4 Bags (16 Oz.) Frozen Spinach
2 Bunches Green Onion, Cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Bunches of Parsley
1 Bunches Marjoram
½ Bunch Thyme
8 Cloves Garlic
2 Cups Dried Porcini Mushrooms (Soak in 1 cup hot water)
4 Slices (2 inch) Italian Bread (Soak in 1 cup milk)
4 Boxes Stovetop Stuffing or 8 cups Seasoned Croutons
2 Pounds Lean Ground Beef
2 Cubes Butter
1 Cup Olive Oil
6 tsp Salt
3 tsp Pepper
3tsp Salt and
4 Cans Evaporated Milk
4 Cups grated Parmesan Cheese
Microwave spinach and green onion with a dash of salt for 2 min.
Do 2 bags at a time with 1 bunch green onion.
Drain and squeeze out liquid. Form into balls.
Chop parsley and garlic.
Chop onions. And place all in dish.
Soak mushrooms and break slices.
Pan #1: Meat:
Heat 2 tbs Olive Oil in large frying pan. Brown the ground beef, while breaking up into small bits. Sprinkle with 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Remove juice as it accumulates. When lightly browned, stir in 1 chopped onion and half of garlic and parsley. Add more oil if needed. Add half of herbs. Cook 2 min until onion is limp. Cover and cook 3 min at low heat. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Pan #2: Spinach
In a large Teflon pan melt 1 cube of butter with ¼ cup olive oil. Add ½ Chopped Onion and ½ of garlic and parsley. Add half of spinach and green onion, 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper, half of herbs. Cook 2 min, stirring constantly. Remove to dish. Repeat with remainder of spinach mixture. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Squeeze soaked bread (save liquid). Chop in processor.
Squeeze soaked mushrooms (save liquid). Chop in processor.
In small batches process meat, spinach and wet bread into a fine mince. Repeat until all are used up. Place in a very large bowl (20 qt). As each batch is processed.
Add beaten eggs, canned milk, chopped mushrooms and liquids, and grated parmesan cheese. Stir well to combine. Adjust seasonings if needed. If too dry, add milk. If too wet, add breadcrumbs. Mixture should be spreadable.
Place in large plastic cake container and refrigerate.
4 Cups Gold Medal Flour
¼ Cup Olive Oil
1 TB Salt
1 Cup Water
Mix together flour, egg oil and salt in processor. Add water gradually through feed tube. Process until ball forms. Process 30 seconds more. Remove from Bowl, and knead into ball. Wrap in plastic and let rest fro 30 minutes or more.
Roll out on floured wood board into circles. Spread Filling on hald of circle and fold top over it. Use ravioli rolling pin to mark squares. Use a pastry Wheel to go along lines to form ravioli.
Pasta Machine: Cut into pieces for rolling through pasta machine. Start with wisest opening on roller, fold dough piece and repeat until sufficiently thin. Follow traditional directions.
This is the recipe that Isabel, my grandmother, gave me for my families traditional raviolis. My grandmothers side of the family is completely Italian, and she is a first generation American. Her mother brought this recipe with her when she moved to San Francisco from the Liguria region of Italy. The recipe was passed from generation to generation, and was mostly learned through assisting in making the raviolis, as the entire family was involved in the lengthy process. In fact, my grandmother was the first to write the recipe down, as in the past it was memorized by the women in the family and adapted based on ingredient availability, batch size etc.
The Raviolis were traditionally made for Christmas Day dinner, as well as anytime a very special guest was coming over for dinner. It was saved for special occasions, as making the Raviolis is a daylong process and a lot of work. Raviolis were only made large batches, and would feed 25+ guests. Due to the length of the process and the lack of storage space needed, the raviolis would be made the day before and would be stored in suit boxes that were covered with tea towel or wax paper, and would be left on the balcony overnight. Because everyone would be exhausted after a full day of making raviolis and no one wanted cook dinner, it was considered a treat to have the scraps of the ravioli dough boiled in chicken broth.
The recipe given has been modified due to ingredient availability and new kitchenware which have aided the process. Originally, the recipe called for Swiss chard and borage in addition to spinach. Borage is a plant that is hard to find in the United States and it has purple flowers and its leaves have a velvet like texture. It supposedly tastes very similar to cucumber, and it helped make the filling lighter and fluffier. Also traditionally sage was added for a little extra flavor. Instead of packaged breadcrumbs, bread would be dried a few days before and grated. Similarly, the bread and herbs are sometimes replaced in todays recipe by packaged Stovetop stuffing mix due to the convenience of having the two ingredients already packaged together. Additionally, nearly all of the ingredients would be home grown and harvested and prepared by the men on the day the raviolis were being made. The ingredients that werent home grown were bought from the neighborhood vegetable market, butcher and dairy. The men would generally be put in charge of harvesting the vegetables from the garden, running errands to buy last minute ingredients and would always grate the Parmesan cheese on a homemade grater box that was made in the early 1900s and is still used by my family to date.
As far as the process is concerned, there was no CuisinArt decades ago, so instead a hand powered meat grinder was used to combine the ingredients. This was always considered a fun activity by the children involved, and they would always take turns turning the grinder. The dough also was made directly on a wooden board on top of the kitchen table by making a well in the middle of a large pile of flour, beating the eggs and adding the olive oil and kneading until there was a big ball of dough. The dough was then rolled out with a three foot long rolling pin. This is not as easy as it sounds as it takes a lot of skill, intuition, and finesse to get the entire slab of dough to be thin enough and be uniform in thickness. For this reason, we now use a pasta machine, which can be adjusted to different thicknesses to roll out the dough. The last few steps, however, remain unchanged. Once the dough is rolled out and the filling has been spread over half of it and it has been folded in half, the special three foot ravioli pin is use to outline the raviolis. The pin consists of ravioli shaped indentations, that when rolled over the dough, cause the filling to be centered in each individual ravioli. (At the end of the document there is a picture of a modern and much shorter variation of the rolling pin). The pin has been passed down through generations, and the pin that my family still uses today can be dated back five generations. The same is true for the ravioli cuter, which looks like a miniature pizza cuter but with serrated edges and is used to cut between the raviolis to separate them.
Making raviolis has always been a treasured family tradition, and the length and complexity of the process is all worth it in the end because the raviolis are to die for. They are definitely much superior to raviolis that you can find from supermarkets or restaurants. Our family takes great pride in the recipe and always looks forward to getting the chance to eat the raviolis each year. Both my grandmother and I are confident that this recipe will continue to be used by future generations for a long time to come!
Ravioli Rolling Pin:
The process of rolling out and cutting the individual raviolis:
A meat grinder: