Cacio e Pere Ravioli (fresh ravioli stuffed with pear and pecorino cheese)

Wine recommendations: With a complex cheese, a velvety pasta and sweet pears plus the unexpected piquant element of the coarsely ground pepper, this dish requires a complex and structured wine. At the same time, the wine needs to be flowery and buttery to play up to the pears, with a tinge of acidity at the end for a clean finish on the palate. For this dish I go again to the Friulian super whites like Zamo’s Tre Vigne, Villa Simone’s Frescati, Paola di Mauro’s Marino Biano and Moris Farms’s Avvoltorre. Or opt for lighter-bodied reds like Fattoria Le Pupille’s Morellino di Scansanso Riserva.

  • For the fresh egg pasta:
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, or as needed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Warm water, as needed
  • For the filling:
  • 3-4 Bartlett pears, peeled and cored (approximately 1 pound)
  • 3 tablespoons mascarpone
  • 1 pound grated fresh Pecorino Romano cheese (for ravioli stuffing)
  • 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano,
  • to finish pasta
  • To finish the ravioli:
  • Fresh egg pasta (see recipe)
  • Ravioli filling (see recipe)
  • 4 ounces aged Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 6 ounces butter
  • 8 ounces water
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To make the pasta: Spoon 2 2/3 cups of the flour into the bowl of a large-capacity food processor fitted with the metal blade. Beat the eggs, olive oil and salt together in a small bowl until blended. With the motor running, pour the egg mixture into the feed tube. Process until the ingredients form a rough and slightly sticky dough. If the mixture is too dry, drizzle a very small amount of warm water into the feed tube and continue processing. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl onto a lightly floured wood or marble surface.

Knead the dough by gathering it into a compact ball, then pushing the ball away from you with the heels of your hands. Repeat the gathering and pushing motion several times, then press into the dough, first with the knuckles of one hand, then with the other, several times. Alternate between kneading and “knuckling” the dough until it is smooth, silky and elastic—it should pull back into shape when you stretch it. Flour the work surface and your hands lightly any time the dough begins to stick. The process will take 5 to 10 minutes of constant kneading, slightly longer if you prepared the dough by hand, rather than in a food processor.

Roll the dough into a smooth ball and place in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at least one hour at room temperature, or up to a day in the refrigerator before rolling and shaping the pasta. If the dough has been refrigerated, let it stand at room temperature for about an hour before rolling and shaping.

To make the filling: On a cutting board, grate the pears and the fresh pecorino cheese in two different mounds, using the side of the grater with the larger blades. In a bowl, mix this together with the mascarpone and remaining pecorino romano.

To make the ravioli: Divide the dough into three equal pieces and cover them with a clean kitchen towel. Working with one piece at a time, roll the pasta out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle approximately 10 x 20 inches. Dust the work surface lightly with flour just often enough to keep the dough from sticking; too much flour will make the dough difficult to roll. If the dough springs back as you try to roll it, re-cover with the kitchen towel and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Start rolling another piece of dough and come back to the first one once it has had a chance to rest.

Let the pasta sheets rest, separated by kitchen towels, at least 15 minutes before cutting them. Roll each piece out to sheets about 30 inches long by 11 inches wide. Keep two of the pasta sheets covered with kitchen towels and place the third on the work surface in front of you with one of the long edges toward you. Arrange 20 of the filling mounds in two rows of 10 over the top half of the dough, starting them about 1 2/3 inches in from the sides of the dough rectangle and arranging them about 2 ½ inches from each other.

Pat the fillings into rough rectangles that measure about 2 x 1 inch. Dip the tip of your finger into cool water and moisten the edges of the top half of the dough and in between the mounds of filling. Fold the bottom of the dough over the mounds of filling, lining up the dough to the bottom firmly, squeezing out any air pockets as you work. With a pastry wheel or knife, cut between the filling into rectangles approximately 2 ½ x 2 inches. Pat the tops of the ravioli lightly to even out the filling. Pinch the edges of the ravioli to seal in the filling. Repeat with the remaining two pieces of dough. Cook the ravioli in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain.

To complete the dish: In a sauté pan, melt the butter. Gradually add the water and bring to a boil. Toss the ravioli together with the melted butter in the sauté pan for a few seconds. Remove from heat and finish with the aged Pecorino cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

Published on July 1, 2010