written by Thor Erickson
photography by Tambi Lane
“What to cook for dinner?” I thought to myself as I arrived home after a long day. I knew my fridge was looking a bit sparse, and I was at a loss as to what to prepare.
Walking into the house, I noticed a box on the front step. I opened it to find two dozen fresh eggs from our friend, Darren, who has twelve chickens that he refers to as “the girls.” The eggs were so fresh that they were still warm. I suddenly knew what was on the dinner menu.
As I cracked the delicate brown shells on the edge of a cup, I noticed the intense orange of the yolks. Suddenly I was transported back in time to a meal I had at a small hilltop restaurant just outside the northern Italian town of Piacenza. Upon my arrival, I was told that the restaurant would not open for another hour, but that they could make a little something for me. That little something was “ravioli al uovo”—egg yolk ravioli. A sauce of butter and Parmigiana caressed the delicate, handmade pasta. Inside the silky envelope, a perfectly cooked egg yolk was nestled in ricotta cheese.
As the server placed it before me, he quickly produced a sizable black truﬄe and shaved it over the pasta. As I took my first bite, I could taste the pure richness of the egg yolk, quietly supported by all the other ingredients. I sighed in satisfaction. The server said, “L’uovo è il cibo più perfetto del mondo.”—The egg is the world’s most perfect food.
Here’s my recipe. These are perfect by themselves or with some steamed asparagus. If you’re lucky enough to come across some Oregon truﬄes, do not hesitate to shave them over the top.
Egg Yolk and Ricotta Ravioli
FOR THE RAVIOLI FILLING
5 tbls unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces ricotta
¼ cup grated Parmigiano
Reggiano, plus more for garnish
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 recipe Basic Pasta Dough
6 jumbo egg yolks, egg whites reserved
FOR THE PASTA
3¼ to 3½ cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
FOR THE RAVIOLI FILLING
In the bowl of a food processor, add the ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano, nutmeg, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and pepper, and puree until smooth. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a round tip with the ricotta mixture.
Divide the pasta dough into 4 pieces. Using a pasta machine, roll the dough out. Begin by using the thickest setting and repeat, reducing the setting each time you pass the dough through, ending with the second-thinnest setting. Lay out one sheet of pasta and pipe the ricotta mixture onto the dough in circles that are 1-inch wideand ½-inch high. For every twelve inches of pasta sheet, you should make three raviolis.
Place one egg yolk in the center of each ricotta circle.
With a pastry brush, brush egg white onto the dough around the filling, being careful not to break the yolk.
Carefully lay another pasta sheet of equal size on top of the first.
Press the dough together and make sure to gently press to remove all air from each of the ravioli.
Cut out the ravioli with a round fluted cookie cutter. Alternatively, cut the between the seams with a knife.
Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a soft boil. Working three at a time, gently place the ravioli in the boiling water, cook for 3 minutes, and then remove with a slotted spoon. Repeat for the remaining ravioli. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
In a 2- or 3-quart saucepan, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter until it begins to foam. Whisk in the reserved pasta water and cook for 1 minute to emulsify the liquids.
Place one ravioli on each plate, drizzle with the butter sauce, and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve immediately.
FOR THE PASTA
This recipe makes more than enough dough for the ravioli. Use only one of the six pieces of dough for the above ravioli recipe. Turn the rest into fresh noodles or freeze for later use.
Place the flour into a mound on a cutting board and with a spoon, shape a small concave indentation in the center. Add the eggs to the center. With a fork, lightly beat the eggs and gradually pull some of the flour into the egg mixture. Mix the flour and eggs together until well combined.
Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic. Cover the dough with a towel and let rest for 20 minutes. Cut the dough into 6 pieces and cover with a towel. Pass one section at a time through a pasta machine. Start on the widest setting and pass the dough through. Begin lowering the machine’s setting down one notch at a time, and pass the dough through once on each setting, finishing on the last (thinnest) setting.
Lay the dough on a flat surface sprinkled lightly with flour and let the dough dry slightly. It should still be a little tacky and pliable, or it will not cut properly. Cut the dough into desired shapes (tagliatelle, taglierini, spaghetti) or use the sheets to make stuffed pastas (ravioli, cappelletti).