Egg yolk ravioli are rich and creamy and incredibly simple. They’re just what they look like – large, round or square pasta parcels encasing a runny, just-cooked egg yolk, and a little soft cheese. You can add a few flavours (here, pecorino because it’s delicious), but the core idea is to foreground the eggs.
They’re surprisingly easy to make, but not all that quick. I won’t lie to you – this is a horrendous parade of buggering about. It’s fresh pasta, what else would it be? But if you’re careful with the yolks, these are simple, reliable, tasty, and kind of impressive.
- Pasta flour (The “00” kind), 200g
- 3 eggs
- Maybe a bit of salt?
- Eggs, 6
- Ricotta, 150g
- Pecorino, 20g
- Flat leaf parsley, 5g
- Dill, a pinch (optional)
- Black pepper, finely ground, some
You might also want to make a sauce. I like to fry sage leaves, then partly emulsify the browned butter with a dribble of the pasta water.
This is enough pasta to comfortably make 6 ravioli. You can just about get 8 out of it. I’d always just make extra pasta dough to be sure, and freeze any surplus as pappardelle. See the note later for scaling ratios.
First, a heads up. There are better descriptions of this technique out there, and many have more helpful process photos. See for instance: Serious Eats
Right. Very finely chop the parsley, and grate the pecorino. Mix these thoroughly with the pepper, dill, and ricotta. Put this in the fridge while you do the annoying part.
The annoying part is making pasta. Sorry.
Separate one of the eggs, keeping only the yolk. Combine the yolk and the other two eggs with the flour and a little salt, and work it all into a dough.
On a well-floured surface, knead it until it softens and becomes silky. It shouldn’t be too slack, and if the eggs are large, it could be a bit wet. You can fix this by adding flour as you go, but be careful – don’t make it too dry or it’s hard to work.
Ideally, knead it vigorously for at least ten minutes, or roundly attack it with the dough hook attachment of a mixer.
Divide the dough into thirds or quarters, or something small. While you work each, keep the others wrapped in cling film or under a cloth, or anything to stop the buggers drying out. Stretch each out into rough ovals with a rolling pin, and then feed it through a pasta machine on successively reducing thickness settings until you’ve got it at something like a millimeter and a half. We’re not looking for crazy thin. You can do this by hand with a rolling pin. It’s not fun, but you can.
Divide the pasta sheets into large squares, probably something like 8cm to a side. Put the ricotta mix into a piping bag. Lay each pasta square on a floured surface, and pipe little ricotta mix circles into the middle of each. These should be just wide enough to hold the egg yolk, and two or three layers deep. You could just splotch down a spoonful and make a well in the center, but I actually find the piping bag easier.
Separate each egg into yolk and white, reserving the white, and very carefully slip a yolk into each little ricotta tower. Brush the edges of the overhanging pasta with white, and gently lay a pasta sheet on top. Carefully press the edges together to seal, and either trim the edges into a square, or use a cutter to make a circle.
Put each of the ravioli onto a floured tray until they’re ready to cook. They don’t keep long and will dry out, so ideally maybe cover them with a cloth or something.
When you’re ready to cook them, heat up a pan of water with plenty of salt to a nice rolling boil, and carefully transfer each of the ravioli into the water. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Simmer them for around 2 minutes, longer if the pasta is thick, fish them out carefully and plate them up with the sauce of your choosing.
I like sage butter, but something with pancetta is popular. I’d avoid cream – that’s probably overkill. I’ve seen tomato sauce used, but think the overall result is like a confused missfire of huevos rancheros. The best thing about these, after all, is the creamy ooziness of the yolk over the fresh, supple pasta. So serve them with something that gets out of the way.
A note on the fresh pasta
You can buy the pasta fresh for this recipe, but you’re still going to have to roll it out. That means a fight with one or both of a rolling pin, or that pasta machine you got for Christmas six years ago, and even went so far as unboxing that time. Starting with bought pasta sheets just doesn’t save that much time, and besides, I like doing things from scratch.
“One etto, one egg” says Bill Buford’s book Heat*, talking about ideal pasta recipes. An “etto” is about a hundred grams, and this basic recipe works if you’ve got really good, medium to large eggs.
I love the simplicity of it. But what I also love is having time to do other things with my life than scour the earth for that one farmers’ market pedalling perfect ova. So the thing to do here is buy the best (medium sized) eggs you can without going out of your way, and correct by adding an extra yolk per 200g. What that lacks in rhetorical elegance, it more than makes up in letting you get the fuck on with your life.
*Heat taught me a fair old bit about fresh pasta, and I would recommend it. It’s well written, but be warned: if the cluelessly-privileged milking a network of New York food scene Fancy People for three hundred pages of dinner party anecdote and a light hagiography of Mario Batali gets up your nose, then this may not be the book for you.