Grandma's Italian Ravioli Austrian Style Recipe
Grandma's Italian Ravioli Austrian Style Recipe

by Wolfgang Puck

One of our favorite recipes is my grandmother's Austrian-style ravioli, which looked distinctively Italian but had a filling of potatoes, cheeses, and fresh herbs that owed as much to Austrian cooking as it did to that of Italy. Those plump filled pastas were so delicious, and my grandmother made them in such great quantities that we had competitions to see who could eat the most.

To tell you the truth, I've always felt partly Italian myself, even though I'm Austrian by birth and American by citizenship.

If you know anything at all about history and geography, you realize that those sorts of national distinctions are flexible, and not just when it comes to food.

From the mid-19th century until the end of World War I, Carinthia, the part of southern Austria where I grew up, was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; so were portions of the Lombardy and Venice regions of the country we now call Italy.

Cuisines are as flexible as historical borders, so I grew up eating many foods people identify as Italian, even though I thought of them as our own family's home cooking. That's especially true of the noodle dishes my grandmother and mother made for our family.

One of our favorites was my grandmother's ravioli, which looked distinctively Italian but had a filling of potatoes, cheeses, and fresh herbs that owed as much to middle-European cooking as it did to that of the Mediterranean. Those plump filled pastas were so delicious, and my grandmother made them in such great quantities that we had competitions to see who could eat the most. My father always won.

The real winner, of course, was my grandma, who earned our eternal admiration for her pasta-making skills. Her dough was rich and tender, yet firm enough to hold up to the robust filling, and she mixed, kneaded, and rolled it completely by hand. Fortunately, the food processors most of us have in our kitchens perform most of the strenuous mixing and kneading in less than a minute, leaving you to do just some gentle kneading by hand to form the mixed dough into a smooth ball. You can still easily roll out the dough by hand, as my grandma did, or use a hand-cranked or electric pasta machine.

The filling is fairly easy to make, combining scooped-out baked potato with cheeses. My grandma used an Austrian curd cheese called topfen, which I approximate in my version of the recipe by combining farmer's cheese, goat cheese, and Parmesan. Her traditional seasoning for the filling was a mixture of fresh mint and chervil, and to this day I really can't imagine the ravioli tasting better with anything else.

So spend this Sunday preparing a batch of these ravioli, keeping them in the refrigerator ready to cook the next day for Columbus Day. Then, sit down and celebrate your own Italian, or Austrian, heritage.

Makes 36 to 40; serves 4 to 6

Ingredients - Grandma's Italian Ravioli Austrian Style

1 pound baking potatoes, scrubbed
4 ounces plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
8 ounces farmer's cheese
5 ounces fresh creamy goat cheese
2 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh chervil leaves
1 large egg, lightly beaten
White pepper
Basic Pasta Dough (recipe follows)
1/4 cup semolina or all-purpose flour, for dusting
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water, to make an egg wash
Minced fresh parsley, for garnish

Preparation - Grandma's Italian Ravioli Austrian Style

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the potatoes until fork tender, about 40 minutes.

Carefully cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the warm flesh and transfer to a bowl. Mash with a fork and set aside.

In a small skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the farmer's cheese, goat cheese, mascarpone, and 3 tablespoons Parmesan; add the mint and chervil, beaten egg, shallot and garlic, potato, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir lightly but thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. At least 1 hour before serving, use lightly moistened hands to roll the filling into 36 to 40 walnut-sized balls, putting them on a clean tray. Refrigerate.

Cut the pasta dough into 4 portions and work with 1 at a time, keeping the remainder covered with plastic wrap. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. With a pasta machine or rolling pin, roll out a dough portion into a 20-by-4-inch rectangle. Brush with egg wash and arrange 9 or 10 filling balls along the lower third of the length, 1 to 1-1/2 inches apart. Fold the dough over the balls. Press down around each ball to seal the pasta, taking care to eliminate air pockets. With a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out the ravioli. Dust a tray with flour and arrange the ravioli on it, dusting with more flour. Repeat with the remaining dough, egg wash, and filling. Cover and refrigerate until cooking time.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the ravioli until al dente, tender but still slightly chewy, 3 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the remaining butter in a large skillet over high heat and cook until it begins to brown. Drain the ravioli and add to the butter, turning gently to coat. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and season to taste with salt and white pepper.

With a spoon, transfer the ravioli to serving plates. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Ingredients - Basic Pasta Dough

Makes about 1-1/2 pounds

3 cups all-purpose flour
8 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
Semolina or all-purpose flour, for dusting

Preparation - Basic Pasta Dough

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the flour, yolks, salt, oil, and 3 tablespoons of the water. Process until the dough begins to hold together. Stop the machine and pinch a piece of dough: If it feels too dry, pulse in up to 1 tablespoon more water, until the dough forms a moist ball.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until it forms a smooth ball. Loosely wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes to 1 hour before using in the recipe above.

[ Related: ]


Receive our Gourmet Recipes by email by subscribing here


Article: Copyright © Tribune Media Services

"Grandma's Italian Ravioli Austrian Style"

Wolfgang Puck's Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck

The world-renowned chef with an extraordinary passion for food now shares that passion in Wolfgang Puck's Kitchen. Puck makes great cooking easier than you ever imagined. He reveals how to turn common ingredients into uncommon masterpieces. Each feature includes both an expert tip and an easy recipe-exactly what you need to transform your home cooking from acceptable to delectable.

About Wolfgang Puck

Wolfgang Puck, in the eyes of food lovers and experts alike, is one of the most famous chefs in America and arguably the world. He has spawned a culinary empire that includes a fine dining group of 12 internationally acclaimed restaurants in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Las Vegas, Chicago, San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Maui; an extensive catering & events business with bases in Hollywood and Chicago, famed as official caterer to the Governors Ball following the Oscars; as well as Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc., a corporation that controls, licenses, and franchises the Wolfgang Puck brand in a wide variety of business activities, including casual Wolfgang Puck Cafes, fast-casual Wolfgang Puck Expresses, consumer packaged foods, cookware, book publishing, television, and the Internet.

For the first time, Puck shares his expert, easy-to-master approach to cooking in the newspaper arena through WOLFGANG PUCK?S KITCHEN, a newspaper column syndicated by Tribune Media Services.

The Austrian-born Puck began his formal training at age 14, inspired by his mother, Maria, a hotel chef. He left Europe for America in 1973 at the age of 24, having already worked in the master kitchens of three-star French restaurants. In 1975, Puck moved to Los Angeles, and soon was both chef and part-owner of Ma Maison. It quickly became a magnet for the rich and famous, with Puck as star attraction. Since then, he has changed the way Americans cook and eat by fusing formal French techniques and Asian- and California-influenced esthetics with the highest quality ingredients.

After the 1981 publication of the first of his five cookbooks, Puck, in partnership with designer Barbara Lazaroff, opened Spago. Located in West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip, it was an instant success and culinary phenomenon from its opening day in 1982. Although the original location closed in 2000, three years after the successful opening of Spago Beverly Hills, Spago Hollywood today is remembered internationally as a legendary haven for entertainment, political and social luminaries.

In 2000, Puck developed his own "Wolfgang Puck" television show, which began airing on the Food Network in January 2001. The show features Puck sharing his cooking expertise with a studio audience who joins him in his kitchen, along with field documentary segments in which he explores the vast and diverse world of food, from farms to artisan workshops to restaurants, and visits with such luminaries as Julia Child, Robert Mondavi and Paul Bocuse. "Wolfgang Puck" was awarded a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Service Show in 2002.

Puck also appears regularly on ABC's "Good Morning America," sharing his latest creations. He has been a guest on a multitude of other shows, including "The Late Show with David Letterman," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Entertainment Tonight," "ABC News with Peter Jennings," "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher," "Frasier," and "The Simpsons." In 2001, the A&E Network featured Puck's life on its popular "Biography" series.

Puck and partner Barbara Lazaroff are actively involved in many philanthropic endeavors and charitable organizations, including their own Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation, established in 1982, which supports the annual American Wine & Food Festival to benefit Meals-on-Wheels.

Puck lives in Beverly Hills. He and Barbara Lazaroff have two sons, Cameron and Byron.