As with most good dinner parties, when in the midst of the fun, the best pictures are not inside the camera. In this case, I’ll share a picture of the leftovers, and the recipe.
Black Lobster Ravioli in Saffron/Vodka Cream (cream not pictured as it was all eaten up by the guests.)
To make fresh pasta, a standard recipe includes 2 cups of flour, three eggs -beaten, and some water. There’s that crazy volcano method which involves forks and beating and kneading. That’s not for me. (NOTE: you will need a good pair of food-safe gloves for this. You can get them at cooking supply, or on those shelves at the drug store near the prescription counter.)
I got out the stand mixer, I put in the dough hook. Into the bowl, I put one cup of semolina flour and 1 cup of A/P flour and turned on the mixer to blend the flours. In a separate bowl, I beat three fresh eggs, a splash of olive oil and a splash of water. Once they were beaten together, I added four packets of Tinta De Calamar (squid ink.) It comes in a yellow box. Its not super-expensive and a search online will likely find you some local suppliers that until you searched, you’ll never know they existed. This stuff adds dramatic color and a nicely robust fishy flavor to fresh pasta.
I stumbled onto this stuff by watching a couple cooking shows, going through a wild goose chase on 9th Street Italian Market in Philadelphia. Actually a bit shocking that some very well known purveyors of foodstuffs didn’t have it in stock, neve carry it, and ALL pointed me in the wrong direction. Yeah. That one too. I stopped in at all of them. A couple had black pasta, some even had black ravioli, but none could or would tell you where you could get squid ink.
As you beat together the egg and ink mixture, it will turn really, really black. Looks a bit like crude oil. Start the mixer back up and run it until a well is created in the middle. Slowly pour in the egg/ink mixture and bring the mixer up to medium speed, continuing to add the egg mixture until the pasta dough bunches up in a sticky black mass that tries to creep up the dough hook. Have some extra A/P flour on hand and sprinkle that in until the dough comes back off the hook. Add a little olive oil and a bit of water to make the dough sticky, then sprinkle in a bit more flour to make the dough creep back up the hook. Let the mixer run on medium for about 15 minutes. You’ll need to do this to knead the dough properly.
Get yourself some cling film (plastic wrap), shape the dough into a disk, about 5″ in diameter and about an inch thick and put the wrapped dough into the fridge to rest for at least an hour.
You’ll need a pasta machine. Restaurant supply will get you one for about 50-60 bucks. One of the big chain retailers will likely charge you over $100. If you live in a town with over 10 Restaurants, you likely have a Restaurant supply store. You should get to know them. You’ll find some pretty awesome stuff through them, and you won’t have to pay the 50% markup you’ll find at those stylish wood-floored stores in the mall that offers demos and signed autographs of the folks on the cable channels where they prepare food.
For the filling, get yourself a big lobster tail. Frozen, believe it or not, is actually just fine for this recipe. If you can’t find lobster, one of those containers of crabmeat will do, but you’ll likely be able to find a lobster tail.
Put it in a 9″ x 12″ pyrex lasagna dish and cover with water. It should thaw out completely in about an hour. Boil some salted water in a large pot big enough to hold the tail and at least enough water to cover it by at least an inch. Don’t oversalt. You’ll need the water for later to cook the pasta and to add a bit more flavor. Cook it for about 8-10 minutes. It should be slightly underdone.
Get a good chef’s knife, put the point in under the first or second link in the shell, grab the handle and press toward the cutting board. You’ll need to be very firm with this action. Doing this half-assed will make the slippery lobster-tail shoot out from under your knife and could potentially leave you injured. A way around this is to place the lobster tail on a kitchen towel. Flip the tail over and repeat the action on the other side so you have a cut in half tail split right down the middle. Now it will be easy to get the meat out. Dice up the lobster meat pretty finely and set aside.
You’ll need some Italian parsley, an egg, some grated Romano, Parmesan, or Piave Vecchio cheese, and cracked pepper. Make what should look like the cheese filling for a lasagna, then stir in the lobster bits. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Run your pasta through the pasta maker repeatedly until you get to the next to the smallest setting. Dust a sheet pan with flour, and lay your pasta strips out. It should look like really long, black flat lasagna.
Once your pasta is all rolled out, take a pasta sheet and a small spoon. You want little quarter-sized dollops of filling spaced out every 3 inches or so. Get a pastry brush and paint on some egg and water around the dollops. Get a second pasta sheet and lay it carefully over the first, pressing the pasta together around the little mounds of filling and trying to push out most of the air around the dollops. Now you can get a knife and cut the ravioli into squares. I prefer to use a muffin/cookie cutter so my ravioli will be round.
Drop the ravioli into the boiling water you used to boil up the lobster tail and cook for about 8-10 minutes.
To make the sauce (not pictured), add a few strands of saffron to about a quarter cup of vodka. Add a teaspoon of curry powder and let sit for at least an hour before you are ready to prepare the sauce.
Add a half cup of A/P flour to a skillet and allow it to brown, stirring with a whisk. Once it reaches a beige color, add 1/2 a cup of whole milk and 3 tablespoons of butter. Continue to stir with the whisk until smooth. Add more milk until the mixture resembles a gravy/sauce. Add the saffron/vodka cream and simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly with the whisk.
Coat the bottom of the plate with the sauce and then place your ravioli.
The ones in the picture were refrigerated leftovers after the plating. I ate one, and even cold, they were still delicious.
They just look a bit sinister.
I’m OK with that if you are.