Roast Duck & Caramelised Onion Ravioli

Yes, this looks like a LONG recipe. There are a few steps involved but there are also some short cuts, and the length of instructions is the result of my trying to make it as easy and clear as I possibly can. Set aside a day so you’re not rushed, and with some patience and a little practice you will be rewarded with the most divine pasta pillows filled with an amazing duck filling.

*First of all, let me put your mind at ease regarding the roast duck part of the title. First off, I do not roast a whole duck. I usually sear two duck breasts in a pan, then finish them off in the oven for ten to fifteen minutes. I have at times used bought heat-and-serve duck breasts, and you could also use a fully cooked, bought Peking duck and remove the meat from the carcass. I also like to add a couple of large portobello mushrooms to the filling.

*Speaking of the duck, I have stated two duck breasts, but to tell the truth I always use four. I end up with lots of leftover filling, which I then use for either spring rolls or filo pastry triangles.

*As for equipment I use my trusty Kitchenaid from go to whoa. I use the dough hook to knead the dough, the mincer/grinder attachment to mince the filling, and the lasagne roller attachment to roll out the dough. Alternatively, you can mix and knead the dough by hand, and you could also roll out the pasta sheets with a rolling pin (I have done this once, after realising too late that I had thrown the manual pasta machine away). And of course you can use a manual pasta machine, turning by hand. You could also use a decent food processor with a pastry attachment to mix the dough together, then knead it by hand for a few minutes. As for mincing the filling, it does give a better result, but if you don’t have a mincer then be sure to chop all the ingredients for the filling as small as you can.

*For the pasta I always use strong bakers, or bread, flour. The rule of thumb is 100 g of flour to one egg. For this recipe I use 500 g flour, 5 whole eggs, a tablespoon of salt, one tablespoon of olive oil, and if needed a tablespoon or so of cold water. Be very sparing with the water.

*The quantities of dough and filling below give me about 45 ravioli, made using a 6 cm square cutter. As a guide, the size of these when they are cooked means that five or six ravioli makes for a generous serve. Last time I made this, I served eight adults and one child. I did also have about twenty filo triangles made with the leftover filling, so without anything else on the side, this will easily serve six adults.

*I like to serve this in a spinach and white wine broth. It’s more like a light soup than a sauce. A tomato based sauce would also work, it’s also delicious in a bolognaise style ragu.

For the pasta:

  • 500 g strong flour (bakers or bread), or Italian tipo 00 flour
  • 5 whole eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cold water, if needed

For the filling:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 duck breasts
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 100 g mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 100 ml Pedro Ximenez sherry, or Marsala brandy
  • 1 tbspn fresh sage leaves, chopped finely
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

To assemble:

  • 6cm square pasta cutter with crimped edges
  • pastry bush
  • some water
  • extra flour for dusting
  • large baking sheets or similar for finished ravioli

For the broth:

  • 3 tbspns extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 g butter
  • 2 french shallots, sliced thinly (or brown onion is also fine)
  • 150 g flat pancetta or prosciutto, cut into strips or matchsticks
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch spinach or silverbeet, washed and chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Grana Padano cheese, to serve

Making the pasta:

Begin by making the pasta dough. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the eggs in the centre and sprinkle the salt in and add the oil. Gently bring the flour into the centre a little at a time, mixing it with the flour. Add the flour slowly and keep mixing to combine. When you have combined all the flour and egg, check to see if it feels stiff and hard. If it does add a teaspoon of chilled water. Mix through, you may need another teaspoon of water but be very sparing and mix the dough well. Knead it for about five minutes {by hand, or about two to three minutes in a mixer}, until it’s smooth and not sticky. Wrap in cling film and allow it to rest in a cool spot until you are ready to roll it out. I have rested it for up to an hour and a half with no problems.

 

Making the filling:

  1. If you are using fresh duck breasts, pre heat the oven to 180 C. Next, season the duck well on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear in a hot pan, skin side down, for five minutes. Turn over and cook for another five minutes on a high heat. Put it in the oven for about ten minutes, then allow to cool. When they have cooled chop them finely, or if using a mincer later, chop coarsely. Leave the skin on. If using bought pre-cooked duck breasts, heat according to packet instructions. Cool, and chop same as for the fresh duck. If using a fully cooked, bought duck, shred or chop the meat.
  2. In a large fry pan heat the olive oil on a medium heat. Gently fry the onions for at least fifteen minutes, taking care the heat isn’t too high. If you have the time, about half an hour on a low to medium heat is best. Next add the garlic and mushrooms. Saute for about ten minutes.
  3. Add  the chopped duck meat, and turning the heat to high, add the sherry. Cook on high for about five minutes, stirring to deglaze. Add the sage, and stir through. Check for seasoning, you might want to add some salt or pepper. Set aside to cool.
  4. When the filling has cooled, put it through a mincer. I used the smaller, fine grinder attachment on the Kitchenaid mincer/grinder. When the filling mixture has all been minced set aside while you roll out the pasta sheets.

 

Assembling the ravioli:

  1. Take your dough and cut into four equal portions. Taking one piece at a time roll it a little on a floured surface until it’s flattened slightly and can pass through the pasta rollers. Pass it through the first {widest} setting three times, folding and flouring a little each time. Move the rollers to number two, pass the pasta through once, and keep repeating until you have thin sheets, about number six. Cut each sheet in half and hang on a pasta drying rack or similar while you roll out the rest.
  2. When you have rolled out all the pasta you are ready to assemble the ravioli. Depending on the width of your pasta sheets, you can either put the filling close to the bottom edge then fold the upper portion of dough over the filling, or if it’s narrow you can put the filling in the center and put another pasta sheet on top.
  3. Place teaspoonfuls of the filling about 2 cm apart. Lightly brush between each mound of filling with a little water. Then either fold the pasta over the filling, or place another pasta sheet over the filling. Press the pasta down firmly between the mounds of filling, and make sure the pasta sheets line up at the edges. With a sharp knife cut between the filling, where you brushed the water and pressed firmly.
  4. Taking one parcel of filling at a time, gently squeeze out any air from the ravioli, pressing the edges firmly together as you go. It’s important to get any air out as this may burst out while they are cooking, spilling your filling into the cooking water. Finally, seal the edges with the square cutter, pulling away any trimmings. Transfer all the raviolis to a large flat baking tray dusted well with flour. They are now ready to cook.

Making the broth:

  1. Just before beginning the broth, get a large pot of salted water on to boil, ready to cook the ravioli. You will probably need to cook it in two or three batches, so using a larger pot will save some time. Put the first batch of ravioli into the water just after adding the spinach leaves. The broth can sit quite happily while the ravioli finishes cooking. The ravioli will take five to six minutes to cook al dente.
  2. In a large deep fry pan or saute pan heat the olive oil and butter to medium-high. (The pan needs to be large enough to hold all the ravioli in the broth when it’s finished). Saute the shallots until they soften, then cook the pancetta or prosciutto until it starts to crisp up. Add the garlic (and if using, the trimmed, chopped stems from the silverbeet). Fry the garlic for a minute or so, then add the stock. Depending on the size of your pan, you may not need all of it. It is a broth though, rather than a sauce, so keep that in mind. Simmer vigorously for about ten minutes.
  3. Next add the spinach leaves, and cook until it’s almost done. (About ten minutes if using silverbeet, about two minutes if it’s English spinach). Turning the heat up to high, pour in the wine. Cook on high for about five minutes or so, add the pepper. You probably won’t need to add salt, as the stock should have enough, and the pancetta or prosciutto will add saltiness. Always taste first.
  4. Add the cooked ravioli straight to the pan with the broth as it’s cooked, lifting it out gently with a large slotted spoon. Serve with some good quality Parmesan grated over the top.

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