Homemade Ricotta & Quail Egg Ravioli

Sometimes I wonder if Scott thinks I like to pretend I’m on Iron Chef when I’m preparing a meal.  I say this because the other afternoon, I sent him out to pick up some ingredients for a vegetable stir-fry I was planning.  Upon his return, he presented surprised me with a container of quail eggs.  He said to me, “I figured you could do something with these.”

Clearly, they weren’t going in my stir-fry, so they would have to chill for a day in the fridge while I gave it some thought.  It didn’t take long before I remembered seeing (on Iron Chef, perhaps) someone put a lovely, golden quail egg yolk inside of a ravioli.  Oh yes.  This is what I was going to do.  But not just any ravioli.  A ravioli made by hand, and stuffed with homemade herbed ricotta cheese.

I apologize for the poor photo quality.  Someday I’ll get a better camera.

So, I set out to make my own ricotta, which was super easy.  It had a lovely and light citrus flavor from the lemon juice, and the texture was super silky.  Waaay better than anything you could buy at the store.

Bring whole milk and heavy cream to 190ºF, remove from heat, add lemon juice.

Place mixture in cheesecloth in a strainer set over a bowl.  Let sit for up to 2 hours.

Voila!  Ricotta!  Add whatever herbs you have on hand.  I added thyme, dill, tarragon, parsley, and cilantro.

Every time I make pasta, I start with a new recipe in the hopes that it’ll be the one I will use forever.  Sometimes I make it in the food processor, and sometimes I make it by hand.  The amount of flour varies, as well as the number of eggs.  This time, I wanted to try a very eggy pasta from, you guessed it, Deb at Smitten Kitchen.

Simple ingredients = the best food.

Perhaps I made my well too big? 

Slowly and deliberately, the dough came together.

I let the dough rest for about an hour and then I rolled it out using the attachment for my stand mixer.  The consistency of this dough is outstanding; it’s tough, yet pliable.  I was able to run it through the thinnest setting of my roller without it tearing.  Deb, this is now my go-to recipe for pasta dough.  Thank you!

Onto the quail eggs.  The tiniest of eggs.  Frankly, I had no idea how to even open one.  Yes, they are eggs, but their size intimidated me.  I knew that I had to separate the whites from the yolks for this particular recipe, so I had to be very careful not to break the yolk as I tried to open them.

Once opened, the yolk separated from the white relatively easily, and I gently placed each one in a little divot I made in the ricotta.

Before I knew it, I had eight lovely ravioli stuffed with my very own herbed ricotta and the littlest of yolks.  Simply divine.

Scott and I enjoyed these with a simple green salad, and I topped the ravioli with brown butter, pine nuts, and freshly grated Parmesan.

Homemade Herbed Ricotta
Makes about 1 cup – recipe easily doubles.

3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, I used Maldon
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pour the milk, cream, and salt into a large saucepan.  Attach a candy/deep fry thermometer to the side.  Heat the milk mixture to 190ºF, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t scorch.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon juice.  Stir it once or twice, gently and slowly.  Let it sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Line a fine mesh sieve or colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and set over a large bowl.  Pour the mixture into the strainer and let sit for 2 hours.  It’ll firm up as it cools.  Discard the whey, and add your ricotta to an airtight container.

Chop up a handful of fresh herbs (1/2 cup or so, or more or less depending on your taste)
You can use all the same herb, like basil, or you can mix it up like I did and use whatever you have on hand.
I used tarragon, parsley, dill, cilantro, and thyme.

Add the herbs to the ricotta along with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, freshly ground black pepper, and sea salt to taste.  Mix together and adjust seasonings based on your taste.  Refrigerate until ready to use in ravioli.

You can also just leave the ricotta plain and spread it on slices of toasted baguette or use it in lasagna.  It should save quite nicely for at least 3-4 days in the refrigerator. 

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