Tuesday, November 15, 2011


This past weekend my sister and I made homemade ravioli. The recipe has been in the family forever. I can remember being a young girl watching my Nona, mother and Zia make these delicious meat filled ravioli. My sister and I had a very important job, we were sent to count the ravioli sheets as the were made.   How many?  they would ask us, and we'd run and count. Dozen or sheets? and we'd run back again and count all over. My sister Marlene still counts by the dozen, while I still count the sheets. It's funny how some things just don't change.
At the time when they made them they would proudly make 200 dozen.  That was a huge amount. Everything was done by hand. They didn't have a Kitchen Aid mixer with pasta attachments to help them make the dough! As Marlene and I got older we were honored to help turn the crank to get the sheets of pasta to the smooth consistency needed so they could be stuffed. Marlene decided that she likes the stuffing part, and I have become the master of cranking out the pasta.
With the help of machinery we are able to make a few hundred dozen in a day rather than a weekend. It's still a tremendous amount of work, exhausting actually, but we love working together. It brings us together, we miss those who are not able to be with us, especially our sister, Michele who lives in California.  We know that while we are working we have the company of two angels, our Nona and our mother. If we get stumped or stuck on something and the answer or solution comes to us, it comes from them. We know how proud they are of us, and it makes us happy to know that they are happy!
They never worked with exact quantities. I don't think they even had a recipe written out until we asked. I remember sitting with a bowl under my mother's hand trying to catch the amounts she was using, and then measuring,  just for a rough idea of how much she was using. We now know that the water needed to make the pasta is approximately 3 - 3 1/2 cups!
When we make the meat ravioli I always try to have equal parts of the meat. If I am cooking 5 pounds of beef, I'll also cook 5 pounds of pork and veal.  However, I will only use about 3 pounds of the sausage meat.  The onions are another story. The more onions, the more sauce. We use about 20 pounds of onions which I hand chop.
I remember them using porcini mushrooms while cooking the meat and there is no mention of the mushrooms on the recipe card.  I make sure that they are added. They give a very delicious flavor to the meat mixture and the sauce.
It's taken us years to interpret the recipe.
Here's what my mother had written down.
For meat stuffing...
Rosolare pork, beef and veal in olive oil and butter until brown, add onions, rosemary and bay leaves.
Saute sausage meat with garlic and spinach.
Seperate meat from the onions.
Chop everything, add parmigiano cheese, salt, pepper and one whole ground nutmeg. Add egg to moisten to hold together. If needed add breadcrumbs.
At least we have one measurement here! LOL! One whole nutmeg!
5 lbs flour
2 eggs all
6 egg yolks
little oil, salt, and luke warm water
mix all together

I started making the meat mixture on Thursday. I cut all my meats into chunks and cooked them with the onions and seasoning for about 4 - 5 hours.
On Friday, I seperate the meat from the onions. The meat chunks went into the food grinder and the onions and the sauce were reserved and put into containers. This is the sauce that is used on top of the ravioli.
On Saturday we mixed all of the gound meats together with the spinach, cheese and eggs and seasoning.
The pasta was made and let to rest for 1/2 hour before working it.

After the pasta has been worked through the machine and is the right size and thickness it goes to the table where the stuffers are waiting to work! We will try to recruit any and all!

The trays get stuffed, then trimmed up and put on a tray.

They are then put on a sheet so they dry out a little, and then flipped hours later.

We work until all the meat mixture is gone. Usually there is pasta left over.
This year we made a few with spinach and cheese.

And when the spinach and cheese was gone we made the left over pasta "dough" into tagliatelle.

We've started a little tradition of our own when making these.
 In the past we would order out for food to eat for diner. Who wanted to cook after working hard all day. One year while making these at my mother's house my husband was in shock that we were going to order out for food. He insisted that we put a pot of water on and eat some of the ravioli that we had been making all day.  We were like, what? eat them now? lol  I'm so glad we did!
So now, every time we make them, after we count them and there is an odd number of sheets that can't be divided and packaged up (we like to put 10 dozen into one package)  they go into the pot of waiting hot water. I can't even begin to tell you just how delicious they are!

We love carrying on the traditions that were shown to us. My hope is that my children learn from us and one day show their own children the special "magic" that can be created through love of family and honoring traditions. Through this love and magic the family traditions will never be forgotten, nor will the people who started them or the people who kept them alive. ❤❤ 

 Buon Appetito
 Lorraine ❤❤ 

1 comment:

  1. I love the pasta light at the table! You family seems as food crazy as mine...