Macheesmo

Cooking with Confidence
No need for sauces! Well... except butter.
Main Dishes, Pasta, Stuffing Stuff, Vegetarian

Chestnut Ravioli

by Nick

In my food letter a few weeks ago I promised that I was going to do something with chestnuts this month. I’ll admit that having never worked with them, chestnuts always just looks like mysterious little wood chunks – expensive mysterious little wood chunks. They were so worth it though. If you’ve never had chestnuts before, they are nutty and very starchy, almost like a potato.

I decided to break one of my rules for this meal (don’t combine two things that you’re doing for the first time in any given recipe), and make a filling with the chestnuts for a ravioli. The chestnuts weren’t too terrible to prepare, but I think I need to work on my ravioli technique a bit. They were very tasty, but not the prettiest thing on the block.

One killer about this recipe is that I don’t have a pasta roller which would make the whole thing easier, but there is something fun about making it by hand. I am no Italian grandmother though so mine just look a bit more, um, rustic.

Yield
Serves 4-6.
Prep Time
Total Time
Print Recipe

Chestnut Ravioli

Chestnut Ravioli

Ingredients

  • Pasta: (From How to Cook Everything)
  • 3 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour (you probably won't use all of it)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • Filling:
  • 1 pound chestnuts (about 20)
  • 8 ounces Mascarpone
  • Very tiny pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg for egg wash (plus a Tablespoon of water)
  • 4 Tablespoons butter for brown butter sauce

Helpful Equipment

Directions

1) For pasta, in a bowl, beat eggs and egg yolks together and then add salt. Then, on a clean surface, add 3-4 cups of flour and make a large well in the middle. Then pour egg mixture right in the middle.

2) Using a fork (or your fingers), gently stir the egg mixture around – slowly incorporate more flour into the mixture. Don’t worry if there are some lumps.

3) Work it with your hands, kneading it, for about 10 minutes. If it starts to get really sticky at any point, just add a bit more flour from your outer ring. You most likely will not use all the flour.

4) Once you have a smooth dough, wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least an hour in the fridge. You can make it 24 hours in advance without a problem.

5) For filling, heat your oven to 350 degrees.

6) Using a paring knife, make a small X on the flat side of each chestnut. Lay out all the chestnuts on a baking sheet as you work.

7) Roast the chestnuts for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

8) While chestnuts are warm, peel them. To keep the chestnuts warm while you peel them, leave batches in the oven at 200 degrees and pull out as needed. For those that don’t peel easily, treat them like a clove of garlic. Chop them in half and then give them a good smash with the side of the knife!

9) Add the peeled chestnuts to a bowl and mush them up a bit with a fork. Then add mascarpone cheese and the pinch of cinnamon and salt.

10) To make ravioli, cut dough ball into quarters. You should end up getting about 7 or 8 large ravioli from each quarter of dough. Then take each quarter and roll it out. Keep the dough well-floured so it doesn’t stick. If you want it to look nice, you can trim the edges of the dough with a knife so the edges are straight.

11) Place about a Tablespoon of filling on the right side of the dough. Leave about 1/2 inch in between each ball of filling.

12) Brush egg wash on all the edges and in between each filling piece. So basically there should be a square of egg wash around each ball of filling. Then fold the left half of dough over the right side and press down between each piece of ravioli. The key is to make sure you don’t have any air bubbles in each ravioli as those might cause your ravioli to explode while it’s boiling.

13) Use a knife to slice up your raviolis. If you have a ravioli mold, go around each piece to seal.

14) Get a large pot of salted water going. Once it’s boiling (gentle boil not rolling boil) toss in your ravioli. When they float, they’re done! It should only take a few minutes.

15) Melt some butter in a large pan and just when it was starting to brown, I tossed in my ravioli to coat them in the lovely brown butter sauce.


Making the Pasta Dough

I think the well method is the best for making pasta. In a bowl, beat your eggs and egg yolks together and then add your salt. Then, on a clean surface, add 3-4 cups of flour and make a large well in the middle. Then pour your egg mixture right in the middle.

Making pasta.

Making a well.

Next, using a fork (or your fingers), gently stir the egg mixture around – slowly incorporate more flour into the mixture. Don’t worry if there are some lumps.

Making pasta dough

Use a fork to make this happen.

Eventually, you should end up with a fairly stiff dough that isn’t sticky, but isn’t dry at all. Then start working it with your hands, kneading it, for about 10 minutes. If it starts to get really sticky at any point, just add a bit more flour from your outer ring. You most likely will not use all the flour. This was my final product.

Homemade pasta dough

Don’t rush this people.

Wrap that in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least an hour in the fridge. You can make it 24 hours in advance without a problem.

Making the filling

The first step in making the filling is to roast the chestnuts. You can roast as many as you want, they are great just to snack on. You’ll probably only need about 20-25 for the recipe though. To roast the chestnuts, heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Then, using a paring knife, make a small X on the flat side of each chestnut. Be very careful when doing this. The chestnut is kind of hard and it’s also kind of slippery. Those two factors can lead to massive wounds!

Just work slowly and you’ll get the hand of it.

Chestnut

Careful!

Lay out all the chestnuts on a baking sheet as you work. It took me maybe 5 or 10 minutes to get all these done once I got the hang of it.

Chestnuts ready to roast

Ready for the oven!

Roast the chestnuts for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. They should kind of bloom open. I’ve heard that you can also boil the chestnuts to remove the skins so that might be easier for you.

The trick to peeling

As the chestnuts cool, they kind of harden which makes them much harder to peel. So you want to peel the shell of each one while it is relatively warm. The way I did this was to turn my oven down to about 200 degrees just to keep them warm and then I worked in batches – pulling out 3 or 4 chestnuts at a time to peel.

In an ideal world, you should be able to easily pop the nut part out through the whole where the X was. If it pops out perfectly, it’ll look like this!

Chestnut cracked.

Ideal.

But a good number of them don’t pop out nicely. For these, I treated them like a clove of garlic. Chop them in half and then give them a good smash with the side of the knife!

It’s not as pretty, but it works.

Messy.

Messy.

Once all your chestnuts are peeled, the filling is super easy to put together. Just add them all to a bowl and mush them up a bit with a fork. Then add your mascarpone cheese and the pinch of cinnamon and salt.

This was a really tasty filling.

Chestnut Filling

Mixed with the mascarpone.

Making the Ravioli

This is where it got a bit dicey for me, but for my first try I was pretty happy with the result.

First, cut your dough ball into quarters. You should end up getting about 7 or 8 large ravioli from each quarter of dough.

Pasta Dough ready

After an hour of resting.

Then take each quarter and roll it out. Keep the dough well-floured so it doesn’t stick. I was able to get my about 20 inches long by 6 inches wide. If you want it to look nice, you can trim the edges of the dough with a knife so the edges are straight.

Then place about a Tablespoon of filling on the right side of the dough. Leave about 1/2 inch in between each ball of filling.

Ravioli ready

I made some large ravioli.

Then brush your egg wash on all the edges and in between each filling piece. So basically there should be a square of egg wash around each ball of filling. Then just fold the left half of dough over the right side and press down between each piece of ravioli. The key is to make sure you don’t have any air bubbles in each ravioli as those might cause your ravioli to explode while it’s boiling.

As far as cutting goes, just use a knife to slice up your raviolis! If you have a ravioli mold, that will make sure that all your edges are pressed together well, otherwise, it’s worth it to go around each piece after you cut them. A leak around the edge of your ravioli will not end well. I lost one little guy because of this.

Not going to lie. This took me a while. It probably took me 30 minutes to make all the ravioli. It would’ve been a lot faster if I had a pasta roller. I also think I’ll be better at it my second time around. But I was pretty happy with the end result.

Lots of ravioli.

This is actually a lot of food.

Cooking the Ravioli

If you want to store these ravioli, they freeze really nicely. Just wrap them in plastic wrap and then store them in an airtight plastic bag. They’ll keep for awhile in there without a problem.

If you want to cook them right away (and you will), just get a large pot of salted water going. Once it’s boiling (gentle boil not rolling boil) toss in your ravioli. When they float, they’re done! It should only take a few minutes.

As far as sauce goes, simple is best. I just melted some butter in a large pan and just when it was starting to brown, I tossed in my ravioli to coat them in the lovely brown butter sauce. That’s all the sauce you need.

Bite of ravioli

A bite of heaven.

I loved this meal and it actually turned out pretty successful even though I was working with two new things. I think the ravioli could have been a bit more evenly shaped, but that’s okay. They still tasted fantastic!

Would I make these again? Any day of the week. But seriously. I’m buying a pasta roller.