This is a recipe from The French Laundry. It's kind of complicated, but not impossible to make for a special occasion. Especially if you do the pasta after breakfast, the filling mid-morning, the ravioli during nap time (which is at a premium lately over here), then all you have to do is throw everything together for dinner. Easy.
I made this recipe a few weeks ago, but I made agnolotti instead of ravioli and it was a pretty big mess. I'm going to need much more practice and a pasta roller to make them properly. They tasted fine, but it wasn't good enough to bother posting. This time I made ravioli and they turned out much better. I also tweaked the recipe a bit to omit a lot of the gratuitous butter. It was plenty rich as I made it.
Sweet Potato Ravioli with Sage Cream and Bacon
(adapted from The French Laundry, here)
6 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon milk
1.5 lbs sweet potatoes
2 slices of bacon, cooked drained & crumbled
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup half and half
25 tiny sage leaves
1-2 slices of bacon, cooked 75% done (or use prosciutto)
I started by making the pasta dough. I'd have taken pictures, but I've detailed this so many times (see list here) that I didn't take any. Just make it like you normally would.
This dough is actually different than my normal dough in that it is heavy in the yolks, and uses a bit of milk and oil in the dough to make it considerably more rich and generally easier to use for ravioli applications. I've made it twice so far and I really like it for this use.
When you get to the resting stage, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you're ready to make your ravioli.
Next is the filling. This comes together pretty quickly and you can stash is in the fridge until you make the ravioli, as well.
Start your bacon going. I made three slices for this meal. Two for the filling and one for garnish.
You might as well make a few extra slices for snacking. My daughter LOVES bacon and always steals mine, so I make extra.
While the bacon is going, start the sweet potatoes.
I make my sweet potatoes in the microwave because they turn out just as good as roasting them and takes about one tenth the time and effort.
If you've made a bunch of sweet potatoes in your time, I bet you've had a huge pain of a time maximizing the output of each one. I always find the skin manages to take a lot of the meat, but when you peel them the outside gets all tough and nasty.
I use a trick where I peel then wrap them in plastic wrap, then microwave them. It maximizes the amount of flesh you get and they're cooked perfectly, every time.
Start with your taters. Get two big ones as we're aiming for about 1.5 pounds when all is said and done.
Peel them. Get down to the orange flesh.
Rinse them off and immediately cover with plastic wrap. The extra water will help steam the sweet potatoes in the plastic.
Roll the ends up tightly.
Pierce each package ONE TIME. It will be enough for the excess steam to escape.
Nuke for 7-10 minutes depending on your microwave.
They should be nice and soft, all the way through.
Slice them up into chunks and add to the food processor. You can do this by hand, but I like the texture of the finished filling when processed really smoothly.
Add 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp allspice. You can add a pat of butter here, but I didn't use the extra fat.
Please try to use fresh nutmeg as it tastes completely different than the ground stuff. Once you taste the fresh stuff, you'll never go back to the can.
Pulse until uniformly broken down. Don't worry about heavily whipping it yet.
When your bacon is 75% done, pull one of the slices for the garnish. I wanted the bacon to have some tooth to it for the texture.
Slice it thinly across the grain and retain for the final dish.
|Try not to eat immediately|
Finish cooking the other two slices and chop finely.
|Delicious bacon bits.|
Add the bacon to the sweet potato mixture.
Now, put the spurs to it.
Process for maybe 2 minutes or until everything has been puréed very well.
Allow to cool a bit and scoop into a ziplock bag. We'll use this as a piping bag later to fill the ravioli.
My daughter loves this stuff. I make it sometimes just for her to eat for lunch. It's really quick if you use a dab of leftover bacon grease instead of making the bacon every time. But I digress.
Save in the fridge until ready to fill the ravioli.
Roll out your dough and cut your shapes. I used a circle for this application.
Pipe a bit (about a teaspoon) into the center of one circle.
Lightly wet the edge and place another on top.
Press well to seal and get all the air out of the center.
Repeat for the rest of the dough.
I made about 42.
Store these in the fridge until dinner. You can freeze them, too.
I had about 1/2 cup of filling leftover, but had a bit of dough too, so I guess I could have been more efficient with my dough cutting. No problem though, I just piped the excess directly into my daughter's mouth.
I saved the grease from the bacon and heated it up to fry the tiny sage leaves.
This step is a little gratuitous, but I think if you're going to do it, do it all the way.
Fry until crisp, about 1 minute.
Drain on a paper towel and save for the final plate.
It's time to eat. Let's get a big pot of water on the boil.
Get your sage leaves ready. We're going to blanch these for 2 minutes, then shock in ice water, then drain and pat dry.
Boil for 2 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer to an ice bath.
Drain on paper towels. Ring them out to get all the moisture you can out of them. There will be a considerable amount of liquid.
Get your half & half and butter over medium/low heat. We're just looking to get it hot, not boil it. Keep an eye on it.
When your cream/butter mixture is hot, add the sage leaves to the food processor.
(Sorry, no pics of this because I needed both hands)
Start the food processor going.
Open the top and slowly pour in the hot cream mixture.
Process until broken down.
The sauce will be green.
Pour the mixture through a fine strainer back into your pan and heat over med/low heat again.
Stand by for the ravioli.
Cook your ravioli until they float. 5 minutes or so. I used the same water from blanching the sage leaves.
Toss them into the sauce, directly from the water. The pasta water will actually help to bring the sauce together.
Toss to coat.
Plate with the bacon strips and fried sage leaves. You don't really need a ton of sauce to taste it. I made all 42 ravioli with this amount of sauce.
So, this was amazing. It was a bit of work, but if you spread it out through the day, it's much easier.
The sweet potato filling was an incredible vessel for the flavor combinations. The allspice and nutmeg paired with the sage was reminiscent of the holidays. Comforting, rich and warm. My wife described each ravioli being like an egg. Once you cut into it the filling was like a yolk of sweet goodness on the plate.
The bacon and sage leaves were an excellent addition for their texture. The sage leaves basically evaporated in the mouth and the bacon, as it wasn't crispy, added a nice chewiness to compliment the bacony flavor in the filling.
Everything was balanced very well and each flavor worked perfectly in the dish. This is a fantastic "special occasion" dish that you can easily pull off. Your wife will love it and the kids will eat it up.
Next birthday or holiday, give this a try!