Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cappellacci—Ravioli Filled with Sweet Potatoes

Cooking Italy Assignment
Cappellacci—Ravioli Filled with Sweet Potatoes, p212

Well, I've done it, I've made ravioli again after a previous, um, disappointing attempt. Things went along better than the last time, but I can't say I was that happy with it.

This is a classic filling from Emilia-Romagna, says Hazan, "furtively sweet," but since the required pumpkin (winter squash) is not available in the US, she suggests using sweet potatoes instead. These are baked, then mixed with crushed amaretti, proscuitto, egg yolk, Parmesan, parsley, and nutmeg for the filling.

The instructions for baking the sweet potatoes seem quite fussy, first 20 minutes at 450F, then 40 minutes at 400F. Then you slice the sweet potatoes open and let them dry in the oven, now turned off. It doesn't seem to me that the change in baking temperature accomplishes much useful. Letting the opened sweet potatoes dry in the oven was an interesting idea, though.

When I went to get the box of amaretti from my "stash," I realized that they weren't regular amaretti, but amaretti virgiana, a softer, larger version of the real thing. Since it tasted rather amaretti-like, I plopped a single one into the pan with the sweet potatoes when they were drying, to dry it out a bit. After this, it crushed in the mortar quite easily.

With no proper Italian proscuitto available, I used a local dried ham that I bought on impulse a few weeks ago when it was on sale.

I rolled my pasta sheets to 7 again, just because I can do it now, but wonder if stopping on 6 would have been better. Also, I didn't consistently make sheets that were at least 4" wide, so my raviolis were a bit oblong rather than square. Nevertheless, they sealed up nicely and stayed closed when they boiled, so I was pleased with that.

The recipe should have made 140 2"-square cappellacci. I had maybe 80, mostly about 1"x2". I wasn't compulsive enough to count those babies one by ones, but estimated rows and columns. There were a lot. I cooked about half of them and put the other half outside to freeze overnight.

I served them a la panna, warmed in cream after being boiled. Topped with Parmesan, this is a really simple and quick way to serve filled pasta that I often use if I find something interesting in the shops.

So, followed by a salad, this was our dinner. Definitely better than the last ravioli that I made, although neither of us really cared for the filling. The proper pumpkin may be be "furtively" sweet, but there's nothing furtive about sweet potatoes. There has to be another winter squash that would work in this situation. We thought acorn squash might be the thing. (I haven't actually seen one of those since we moved to Europe, too bad, and we're planning to plant them when we get our potager going.) These have a more complex taste and are less hit-you-over-the-head sweet.

There was quite a bit of filling left over. I stirred in another bit of chopped ham and froze it. I'll use this to stuff something in the next months, maybe more raviolis using the machine attachement to make smaller, tidier raviolis.

1 comment:

  1. Your cappellacci look fabulous! I'm sorry the filling was too sweet for your tastes. I don't think I got to the point that I could think about the filling because I was too disappointed in the pasta! LOL! Congrats on a technically successful dish!