P3 ~ Pickles, Pork, Pasta

I need your help. I still don’t know what to call this dish. It all started as a challenge posed by Cindy, my friendster. Apparently there was competition not long ago, for which the contestants had to submit a dish using pickles as a main ingredient. She extended the challenge to me and being the competitive sucker that I am, I accepted.

It was an odd ingredient for me to work with because I’m not all that crazy about pickles. I don’t crave them as a snack. I asked they be skipped on sandwiches. I eat them very seldom. But I had to do it, I just had to take a swing at it.

It took me a few days to settle on an idea. I envisioned raviolis, pickle ravioli topped with pulled pork. My thought was a play on a pulled pork barbecue sandwich. I would sub the pasta for bread and instead of bbq sauce, a tomato ragout.

On my first attempt, I chopped pickles and sliced carrots very thinly and used that to¬†fill the ravioli. I made about 3 ravioli, it was a test after all. That was OK and I imagined that once it was together with the pork, it would all come together. However, I wasn’t wild about the textures. The pickles were chewy in a weird way. I gave the whole¬†thing a bit more thought¬†and by the time I was ready to make the final version, I had tweaked the original version to what I’m sharing here.

Note:¬†You’ll need to plan ahead for this one as the pork will need to cook in advance. Slow-cooked even. However, you could use leftover meat instead of the pulled pork. I used wonton wrappers to make the ravioli. I really like the lightness of the dough and how incredibly easy it makes the task. This recipe made 25 ravioli, enough for 5-6 servings.

For the Pulled Pork
1 Pork butt roast (this one was about 5-6 lbs, but I used less than half for this recipe)
8-10 garlic cloves, sliced
Sea salt & black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 medium tomatoes, seeded & chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cp Italian parsley, finely chopped

Cut slits into the meat and fatty side of the roast and insert slices of the garlic into each slit. Sprinkle generously with salt & pepper and let it rest for 30-60 minutes.

Place the roast into a crock pot and cook overnight on low. It took about 10-12 hours for a 5-lb roast to be done. I put it in Friday around midnight and it was ready when I woke up Saturday morning.

Remove the roast from the liquid and allow it cool. Reserve the liquid to use in the ragout. If it has cooked enough, it will LITERALLY fall off the bones. Pull the meat apart, you’re essentially shredding it. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat about 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and add the onions; cook them until translucent, then add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes break down and the chunks are unidentifiable, about 12-15 minutes.

Add about 3 cps of the pulled pork and a bit of the pot juices you reserved. Lower the temperature and simmer for another 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add the parsley and turn off the heat. Adjust the seasonings by adding a sprinkling of salt and pepper, if necessary. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Pickle and Onion Ravioli
For the Pickle Filling:
1-16 oz jar of dill pickles, drained
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cp cheese, something like Gouda
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 pkgs wonton wrappers (25 per package)

To prepare: Drain the pickles completely, by laying them on paper towels for about 30 minutes. This will not only drain the moisture, but also help remove some of the pickling.

In the meantime, heat a medium skillet with the oil and cook the onions until they are translucent. Set aside to cool. Put the pickles and onion into a food processor and pulse until they’re minced. Mix in the cheese and enough of the cream to make it into a paste. Set aside.

Lay out a few wrappers at a time and brush one side with water, then place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper, then top with another wrapper. Be careful not to put too much filling.

This time I decided to use a biscuit cutter to make them into rounds. Make sure you pinch the edges very well once you’ve trimmed them. This will ensure¬†the filling isn’t lost in the boiling water. Continue until you’ve used all the filling. I froze them overnight, but you can proceed to cook them right away.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, then add about 2 tbsp sea salt and a bit of oil. Drop the ravioli into the water and immediately lower the temperature to medium. You don’t want the water to be boil too hard once the ravioli are in, otherwise they will split open. Cook the ravioli for about 8 minutes, they will begin to float once ready. Carefully remove them from the water onto a colander or strainer and then to the serving plate. Be careful, they’re very delicate.

I topped the plates with fried pickles. Originally, I did it for presentation’s sake, but I have to admit they added another lovely dimension to the dish.

For the Fried Pickles I used about 15 spears, I removed the seeds and drained them on paper towels for about 15 minutes. Then I cut each spear into 3 sections, set aside.

In a small bowl combine 1 cp flour and whisk in about 1/2 cp of beer, you want the batter to be thinner than pancake batter. Dip the pickles in the batter, then roll them in breadcrumbs or panko before deep frying at 375¬į.

Plating: Place 4-5 ravioli at the bottom of the plate, top with a mound of the pork ragout and crown with the a few pieces of pickle.

I will let the judges: Cindy, Dorothy and Lindsay,¬†give you their input. They judged the dish on 4 areas: Creativity, Taste, Use of the Ingredient, and Presentation. I will say that I found it to be an unexpectedly delicious and interesting dish. But I still don’t know what to call it. What do you suggest? The components are: Ravioli filled with pickles and onions, pulled pork in a tomato ragout and fried pickles. HELP!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

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Easy eggplant ravioli

 

Remember I mentioned eggplant would be showing up every so often? Well, here it is again. I continue to find other ways to prepare this veggie/fruit–it has seeds, does that make it a fruit? Hmmm.

This is still quite similar to the way I had prepared it in the past in that the eggplant is sorta stewed. I’m going to call this a ragout. I’m not completely sure that’s what it is, but I like the name and this is my blog so that’s the name it gets. The dish is a simple one, no complicated or fancy cooking skills required, but it does have a few steps if you choose to make it into raviolis. Alternatively, you could make the ragout and serve it over your favorite pasta. That would be oh so good too.

Eggplant & Tomato Ragout

2 shallots, sliced
3 large tomatoes, seeded & chopped
1 large eggplant, cubed
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/3 cp gin or wine

In a medium-sized pan, heat the oil and add the shallots; cook until translucent. Then add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes have soften. Season with salt, pepper and sugar.

Add the gin or wine (you can also substitute with stock) and ignite it to burn off the alcohol.

Add the eggplant, stirring well to coat all the cubes with the tomato puree. Cover with a loose-fitting lid, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 20 minutes or until eggplant is soft and creamy.

Set aside and prepare the ravioli.

For the ravioli I used Chinese wonton wrappers. Here’s the step-by-step action.

Work with a few wrappers at a time. Brush one side with water, these little wrappers have a lot of cornstarch on them to keep them from sticking to each other. I brushed the entire surface with water to get rid of the excess and also to moisten it so I could press them together.

¬†…

Drop about¬†2 tsps¬†of filling in the center of the wrapper. Don’t overstuff them.

Top with a second wrapper and pinch the edges together. I don’t have a pasta or pastry cutter, I used a knife to trim off the edges. In my head that would help seal the edges together.

Once you’ve filled all the raviolis, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make sure to add enough salt and oil to cook the raviolis. About 5 minutes or so (follow packet instructions) or until they float to the top. Drain and set aside.

I made a quick Bechamel¬†sauce to top the raviolis, then laid them out in an oven-safe dish, topped them with the sauce and sprinkled some Parmesan. Then baked for about 15 minutes and broiled until the top was golden brown and bubbly. You can skip the bechamel altogether and simply serve the raviolis with the ragout that’s leftover.

These were so¬†light and delicious, I hope you’ll enjoy them. As long as I’m on an eggplant kick, do you have a recipe you love and want to share?

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris