I still remember the first time I had fresh pasta. It was one of those ah-ha moments, like the first time I had sushi. The smell of hatch green chilies roasting in the cool Colorado air or fresh baked bread right out of the oven slathered in butter. Things like these are what keep me grinding in this chaotic industry and creating fresh made ravioli is something that has endless potential, creativity, and fun. It is also something that our guests at Freshcraft seem to enjoy when we feature them in our daily specials. Quite frankly, I consider them very sexy when done right. Therefore when I started thinking about a Valentine’s Day feature – I thought “why not do a nice surf and turf ravioli?” I brain- stormed with our Sous Chef Dan Shaffer and we decided that a Snow Crab Ravioli paired with a braised Beef Cheek Ravioli would be fun and a little different than what we usually see on a Valentine’s Day menu. So we decided to break out the pasta machine and ravioli press and play around with different fresh stuffed pastas so that when Valentine’s Day rolled around we would be prepared to whip out the best stuffed pasta this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
It started with an apple and pork walnut agnolotti that we ran last week. First the dough – we toasted walnuts to remove the moisture and so that only the essential oils remained. Then we ground that into a paste and added flour, eggs, and salt (normally in a pasta dough recipe you would add oil too, but with the oils left over in the walnuts, this was not necessary). After forming, we allowed the dough to rest so the gluten can retard. For the filling, we made a pork mousseline with an apple butter, herb, and ground pork base (with cream, of course). The apple butter was the real star of it, as it had such a great concentrated roasted apple flavor that lends itself well to both pork and walnuts. We chose the “agnolotto” style because we felt that it holds sauce well due to its shape. This was served with a simple and elegant lemon-butter sauce because its balanced acidity was the perfect profile to cut through the richness of the mousseline filling. To garnish, we used tomato for its bright, fresh flavor and candied walnuts for texture and sweetness.
The next stuffed pasta that we featured was part of a larger dish. We created ravioli with a cauliflower and scallion filling. We rolled the pasta out thinly using our well-worn pasta roller, brushed them with an egg wash, and piped the filling into the middle of the dough in evenly spaced increments. Next we laid an identical pasta sheet over it, starting at one end, while pressing between each ball of filling. After uniformly shaping the filling through the dough using a ring mold, we cut them with the ravioli press. This gave us those ruffled edges that we have all become familiar with. For the plate, we fried them, and served them with an almond crusted ruby red trout, spaghetti squash piccata, and a balsamic reduction.
Valentine’s Day is all about love. So if you love amazing beer and spectacular food, come out and see us at our Freshcraft restaurant in downtown Denver to indulge in one of our featured Valentine’s Day dishes!
Check out our Prix Fixe Valentine’s Day Menu, Complete with Pairings.