Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chestnut, Thyme & Apple ravioli

When you have access to fresh, seasonal produce- sometime you just gotta drown yourself in it, and with over 600 beautiful and lovingly gathered chestnuts adorning my house in little bowls and mountains, it was time to start putting them to good use.
Inspired by a couple of recipes floating around and a hands on cooking dinner at a friends place earlier in the week, I came up with this combination of seasonal delights and I have never been so satisfied with a gourmet mid-week meal. Once the chestnuts are shelled (and let's admit it, that part can be tricky), the rest is pretty simple. Thankfully, as the chestnuts get crumbled up, you can be pretty blase with the peeling. I just spilt the shells and boiled mine for 15mins, then sliced them in half and crumbled the meat into a bowl. Easy-peasy. 

Chestnut, Thyme & Apple filled Ravioli: 
makes about 20 depending on size. Serves 2 for a main, or 4 for a generous entree.

  • 250 grams of freshly shelled chestnut meat (about 500g raw nuts), crumbled
  • 1 apple, skin on (I used red sundowner), finely chopped 
  • 1 brown onion, minced
  • 3T olive oil
  • 2T currants
  • 1t dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2T butter
  • 20 ravioli wrappers- we made our own from our basic pasta recipe (2 eggs to 200g flour). 
  • Half a lemon for finishing
If you're making your own ravioli wrappers, do this first and then cover them with a damp cloth to stop them drying out, but have them ready to go.
Heat the oil in a frypan and fry onions until golden and translucent. Add the thyme and 1/2 the chopped apple, fry for one minute to infuse flavour. Add chestnut meat and currants and toss through. Then add water and cook for 15mins until the water has reduced and the filling thickens a little. Make sure it's not too wet. 
Have a small cup of tepid water ready by your work space and a floured surface ready to rest the ravioli on once filled- this will stop them sticking to the bench.
Take a ravioli wrapper in your hand and put a teaspoon of filling in it (do not overfill or they will not seal properly and will explode when cooking). Wet one finger with a little water and run it along one edge of the ravioli wrapper. Fold wrapper in half over the filling and press the wet edge to the dry edge to seal.
Make sure you ease/squeeze out air bubbles (again, they will cause ravioli to explode when cooking). You can leave the ravioli shapes like this in a crescent, or take the two corners and bring them together and seal with water to create a little 'crown shape'. Set the finished ravioli to one side on the floured bench. Repeat the process until you run out of wrappers or filling.
Once the ravioli are ready, boil a pot of water with a little salt in it. 
When boiling, place the ravioli gently in and cook until pasta is aldente. It varies depending on your pasta, but about 5mins- don't overdo it, or they may explode, the less time bobbing round in the water the better. Drain ravioli.
 Heat butter in a frypan, add the remaining apple and and fry till golden, then toss through the cooked ravioli to coat in apple and butter. Serve in big white dishes with the pan juice drizzled over and a healthy squeeze of lemon juice to cut the oil.
Then relax with your loved ones and a glass of red wine- even better if it's in front of an open fire in Autumn and there are more chestnuts to roast for fun/dessert.

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