Sunday, January 8, 2012

Saturday Night Comfort Food: Ravioli alla Tortorella

Last night, I invented this dish and named it in honor of the New York Rangers’ coach John Tortorella. There is no particular significance to the ingredients as pertaining to him; I just wanted to pay tribute to the man who has led my secret boyfriend Henrik Lundqvist and his teammates to be NUMBER FREAKING ONE IN THE NHL AND WINNERS OF THE WINTER CLASSIC!!! And whose name just sounds like it should be a pasta. Originally I was actually thinking of inventing a Tortellini alla Tortorella (you know how I love geeky wordplay, gentle reader), but I figured ravioli would work better, because the meat sauce would mingle with the cheese filling once you cut into the ravioli, whereas tortellini are all wound up tight (much like Tortorella).

While heating a large pot of salted water for a package of cheese ravioli (13 count), I sautéed a little over a pound of ground pork in a couple tablespoons of olive oil with a medium chopped onion, a bunch of minced garlic, and a 10-oz. package of cremini (a.k.a. "baby bella") mushrooms sliced and halved. Oh, and coarse salt and pepper of course, and some fresh thyme leaves. I broke up the meat with a wooden spoon as it cooked.

Once the meat was cooked through (it doesn’t really brown, it more like…whites), I added maybe 1/2 cup frozen peas, stirred them in to mix, and transferred the meat mixture to a bowl.

I melted about half a stick of butter in the saucepan where I’d cooked the meat, and sprinkled in/whisked a couple tablespoons of flour, browning over medium heat while whisking for a few minutes to make a roux.

Then I whisked in a healthy splash of chicken stock followed by maybe 2 cups of milk, turned the heat up to high, and brought it just to a boil before lowering to a simmer at medium and throwing in some chopped fresh parsley.

After letting the sauce reduce and thicken for a few minutes while whisking sporadically, I turned the heat down to low and added the pork mixture back into the saucepan along with a piece of Parmesan.

Around this time the pasta water started to boil, so I dropped in the ravioli and cooked them while the sauce continued thickening on low. Once the pasta was cooked, I divided it into bowls, and stirred some more chopped parsley into the sauce before ladling it over the ravioli. There was a good amount of sauce left over; you could probably make this same amount with two packages of ravioli to serve four. Also I could see it working as a lasagna filling if you doubled it, perhaps with some chopped spinach mixed in.

I served it garnished with grated parmesan and more fresh parsley, paired with a bottle of red wine. (Probably a salad would have been good but y’know, that’s just empty calories.) And let me tell you, after a bowl of this heavy dish and a couple glasses of Malbec, even Torts himself would have mellowed out.

This was the most enjoyable invocation of John Tortorella’s name since I got tired of saying it followed by “ella-ella-ella, eh-eh-eh.” I am now inspired to invent a pseudo-Swedish-meatball recipe in honor of my beloved Lundqvist. And in closing, let me just say, LET’S GO RANGERS!!!

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