Now reading Beef Cheek Ravioli

Beef Cheek Ravioli

A pasta that is the perfect showcase for alternative cuts of meat.

Of all the pasta dishes—indeed of all the dishes—on the menu, this is probably the most associated with Babbo. When we first opened there were not that many restaurants celebrating alternative cuts of meat like these incredibly flavorful cheeks. I’m happy to say that’s no longer the case.

At the restaurant we make the filling with squab livers, although I have substituted more readily available chicken livers here. If you can get the squab livers, by all means use them—the livers Toscani would be made exactly the same way. I would consider doubling the filling recipe and freezing some for later use; it holds very well in the freezer, and I guarantee you will want more immediately.

This is excerpted from The Babbo Cookbook, by Mario Batali.

Ingredients

Makes 60-70 Ravioli, serves 8
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 white onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 celery stalk, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 lbs beef cheeks, brisket, or beef chunk, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 C red wine
  • 1 C chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
  • 1 t fresh rosemary, chopped
  • + Basic Pasta Dough
  • + Kosher salt
  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • + chicken livers
  • 2 T black truffles, sliced
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped to yield 1/2 C
  • 1/4 C grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving

Basic Pasta Dough

  • 3 1/2–4 C flour
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 t extra-virgin olive oil

Chicken Livers Toscani

  • 7 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb chicken livers
  • 2 T capers, rinsed and drained
  • 2 salt-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed, soaked in water, and patted dry
  • 1 T hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 C dry red wine
  • + kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation

Make the Pasta Dough

Basic Pasta Dough
  • 3 1/2–4 C flour
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 t extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Mound 3 1/2 cups of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs and the olive oil. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and oil and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well.

  2. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. The dough will come together when half the flour is incorporated.

  3. Start kneading the dough with both hands. Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover bits. Lightly re-flour the board, and continue kneading for six more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Make the Chicken Livers Toscani

Chicken Livers Toscani
  • 7 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb chicken livers
  • 2 T capers, rinsed and drained
  • 2 salt-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed, soaked in water, and patted dry
  • 1 T hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 C dry red wine
  • + kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. In a 10-to-12-inch sate pan, heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil slowly over medium heat. Add the onion and cook slowly until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add the livers, capers, anchovies, and red pepper flakes, and cook until the livers are lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and cook until only 3–4 tablespoons of liquid remain, about 15 minutes.

  2. Transfer the liver mixture to a food processor and pulse on and off until blended but still lumpy—it should not be smooth like a purée. Season with salt and pepper, and remove to a small mixing bowl.

Make the Ravioli

Ingredients
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 white onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 celery stalk, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 lbs beef cheeks, brisket, or beef chunk, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 C red wine
  • 1 C chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
  • 1 t fresh rosemary, chopped
  • + Basic Pasta Dough
  • + Kosher salt
  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • + chicken livers
  • 2 T black truffles, sliced
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped to yield 1/2 C
  • 1/4 C grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving
  1. Heat oven to 400°F.

  2. In a large, ovenproof skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, lower the heat, and cook until very soft but not browned, about ten minutes. Increase the heat to high and add the beef cheeks. Brown on all sides, working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. Add the wine and stir in with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge browned bits of vegetable and meat. Bring to a boil, stir in the tomatoes and rosemary, and allow the mixture to return to a boil. Cover, place in the oven, and cook for 1 hour, or until the meat is stringy and very tender.

  3. Remove the meat from the oven, allow to cool, and skim off the excess fat. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse until smooth.

  4. Using a pasta machine, roll out the dough on the thinnest setting. Cut the sheets into 4-inch squares. Place 1 tablespoon of the beef filling in the center of each square, bring two opposite corners together to form a triangle, and press the edges together firmly to seal. At this point you may freeze the ravioli on cookie sheets between layers of wax paper or parchment.

  5. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil, and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

  6. In a 12-to-14-inch sauté pan, heat the butter over high heat and cook until it begins to brown but not scorch. Add the chicken livers Toscani and cook for 1 minute. Add a few tablespoons of the hot pasta water to create an emulsion in the pan. Add the truffles and cook for 1 minute more.

  7. Meanwhile, drop the ravioli in the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes or until they float to the surface. Using a slotted spoon, drain the ravioli and add them to the sauté pan.

  8. Add half the chopped parsley and the 1/4 cup of grated Pecorino to the pan. Toss gently for 1 minute over medium heat to coat. Place three ravioli on each of eight warmed dinner plates, removing them carefully from the sauté pan with the spoon. Spoon the extra sauce over each serving, top with the remaining parsley, grate Pecorino over each plate, and serve immediately.