Mar 27 2011

The L-word

Published by Christine at 3:44 am under Pasta,Seafood

The brand new kitchen island at which I am seated now is a comfortable 5′ x 7′. It’s big enough to sleep on, although the granite that covers it might not be the most comfortable surface to get some rest – it turns out there is such a thing as ‘too firm’ and ‘way too cold’ when it comes to bedding; who knew? But as a work surface, it can’t be beat. The best part of it is that many people can be around it at the same time, cooking together or just sitting around and relaxing, which makes it possible to both be in the kitchen and enjoy company at the same time.

Thus I wanted to make a meal that would require the involvement of more than one person (i.e. yours truly), just so we could all enjoy working and being together in this new space. When I mentioned ravioli to our friends, they were instantly sold. When I announced we would be making lobster ravioli, the smiles were even bigger. Lobster is definitely not a hard sell. Lobster ravioli? Yes, please.

Have you met my friend?

Making ravioli is a task that requires patience. You cannot be in a rush. In fact, you have to enjoy the time it takes, and the process of making something entirely from scratch. Nothing out of a box here. No wonton skins. No bottled anything. There is something utterly satisfying out of producing a meal from the most basic ingredients. This is one of the reasons I also enjoy making soap (an item that most people are not even aware can be made at home), although I promise I won’t serve any for dinner.

The recipe for the pasta itself was borrowed from Lydia Bastianich, whose Italian cooking shows on PBS have inspired a few meals at my house. It is a basic egg dough that rolls beautifully and handles a heavy filling quite well. I usually make it in a food processor, but mine was broken a little while back, so I had to make the dough by hand, which was actually very easy. I was going to write that you really don’t need very much by way of kitchen equipment to make ravioli, but that’s a half-truth. While you can roll the dough by hand with an old-fashioned rolling pin, using a pasta machine (electric or not; mine isn’t) will really make the process that much more enjoyable, less time-consuming, and less frustrating. So, while you don’t need a food processor to make the dough, you’ll probably want a machine to roll it out.

The filling is not overly complex, because I wanted to give the lobster a chance to shine (after what I put the poor creature through, I owed it that much). I’m including a few pictures below that will hopefully give you an idea of what it should look like. Ideally, you want it to be thick enough that it can hold in place while you assemble the ravioli, but not so thick that you wish you’d made pastry out of it. I like using a little bit of corn starch here, instead of a butter & flour mixture, because I find it easier to control.

If you plan it right, this is the kind of dinner that you can put on the table midweek after a long day at work. “But how?!” the crowd asks in disbelief. If you’ve planned ahead and made enough to freeze some for later, you can enjoy them anytime. They really do freeze very well. Just make sure you put them on a baking sheet before placing them in the freezer; when they are solid enough, you can put them in a bag. This will prevent their sticking to one another.

And so goes another adventure in the kitchen. This one was definitely labor-intensive, but well-worth it. If you want to treat yourself and yours to something memorable, invite a few friends to a ravioli-making party. Who can say no to lobster?


Lobster Ravioli


Makes about 36 2″ round ravioli

For the pasta:

3 cups flour
4 eggs
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp salt

Beat eggs and oil together, and mix with dry ingredients until well blended (you can do this by hand or in a food processor). Knead briefly and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic and let rest in the fridge for at least one hour.

For the filling:

One 1.5 lb live lobster
½ lb cooked shrimp, tails removed
½ cup finely diced celery (1 stalk)
¾ cup finely diced carrot (about 1 medium)
2 large shallots, finely diced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 small bottle clam juice
2 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1.5 tsp corn starch
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Steam lobster over boiling salted water until the lobster is bright red (this should take no more than 10 to 15 min). Let cool, then remove flesh from the shell. Chop the lobster meat and the shrimp in small pieces, like this:

Lobster and shrimp, ready for Act II

In a large saute pan, gently cook the shallots, carrots and celery over medium-low heat until they start to color. Add clam juice and tomato paste and mix well. Add broth and parsley. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for 10 to 12 min. Add cream, lobster and shrimp. Mix starch in a little bit of water and add to pan. Keep stirring and cook gently until the mixture thickens a bit. Remove from heat and let cool. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

Assembling the ravioli: On a floured surface (and with the help of your pasta machine) roll out the pasta dough into thin sheets. Place one sheet on counter and drop small mound of filling (about 1 tsp worth) about 3″ apart. With a pastry brush, wet the spaces between the filling and place another sheet of pasta on top. Being careful not to create air bubbles inside the ravioli, press pasta layers together. Using a cookie cutter or small glass, cut ravioli into 2″ rounds. Press edges together firmly to seal. Place assembled ravioli on floured parchment paper.

A gathering of ravioli

Cooking: Place ravioli in boiling water and let cook approx. 3 min. Toss with brown butter (butter that has been melted over medium heat and briefly cooked until slightly browned – not burned) and serve.

Most enjoyable indeed.

Luscious Lobster


One response so far

One Response to “The L-word”

  1. Deb Amlenon 27 Mar 2011 at 12:31 pm


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