Friday, May 25, 2012

Butternut Squash Ravioli

This isn't as much a recipe as it is a plan. The amounts here are far from exact but the process is pretty idiot-proof, so no worries!
What you need
About a cup of cooked butternut squash.
I usually slice 'em, scrape out (and discard) the seeds and fibers, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, turn upside down on a plate and nuke for about ten minutes. Allow to cool, then scoop out the cooked squash.

Wonton Skins.
The ones I used are 3.5 inches square.
They're available in the produce section of your supermarket or you can get 'em here.

Salt and pepper to taste (as they say)
2 cloves of garlic
Butter and olive oil
1 egg, separated (yolk and white)
Sage leaves (or dried sage).
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Nutmeg and allspice (optional).

What you do

Mash up the cooked butternut squash in a mixing bowl. Taste it. If it's sweet, just put in a little salt and pepper. Sometimes, the squash is a bit bland, so you might need to add a little allspice and nutmeg (about a half teaspoon of each) to bump up the flavor. You can also add a teaspoon of honey, if you like it to be even sweeter.
Add the egg yolk to the squash and mix thoroughly. Let stand.

The wraps
Open your package of wonton skins and take out a stack. You should be able to make about 20-24 with the squash. The wonton skins can dry out pretty quickly, so cover them with a wet paper towel.
Beat the egg white and keep it near the stack of skins.
You don't need this —and I was prepared to make this by hand — but I remembered that I had this dumpling press (pictured below) stashed away in a drawer. 
What do you know! It was the perfect size for the wonton skins. (If you want to purchase one, click on the image or here.)
The procedure is to take a wonton skin, lay it on a flat surface (or within the dumpling press). Put about half a teaspoonful of the squash in the middle of the wrapper. With your finger (or a brush, if you're prissy), spread some egg white around the edge of the skin. Close the press (or fold the filled wonton skin with your fingers), sealing the edges together. You should have a tight, filled package with as little air as possible and no squash seeping through.

Lay each filled and sealed wonton skin on a flat surface to dry.
You'll have about 20 or so with about a cup of squash. If you have wonton skins left over, reseal and use soon. They will dry out, so use 'em or lose 'em.
Fill a pot with water, add salt and boil your (ta da!) ravioli.
You don't need a violent, rapid boil, just a bit of bubbling.
Use a wooden spoon (or whatever) to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
The ravioli will be done in about 5 minutes or less, so don't overcook.

In the meantime, heat a large, flat pan; low-medium heat, and add  2 tbs. butter.
You don't want the butter to sputter and crackle, just melt and slowly brown. 
Smash your 2 garlic cloves against the flat blade of a large knife on a cutting board. Add to the melting butter. 
Keep the heat low; you don't want to burn the garlic.

When the ravioli are done, remove from water and drain.
By this time, the butter should be starting to darken. Turn heat down to low. 
Drizzle in about a tablespoon of olive oil and blend with the butter. 
Add the ravioli and gently mix. Add more olive oil, if needed.
If you have sage leaves, add them now or sprinkle just a bit or ground sage. Salt and pepper to taste. 
Serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Slow-Roasted Beef Brisket

1 beef brisket approx 4-5 lbs
1 tsp each kosher or sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika (pref. smoked)
1 tbs liquid smoke (optional)
1 tbs olive oil
1 large onion.

Remove brisket from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 200° F.
Drizzle and spread olive oil on the bottom of a roasting pan, just enough to cover surface of the pan. Use as little oil as necessary to cover surface.
Wipe brisket with a paper towel.
Place brisket fat-side down on roasting pan (in the olive oil). (It's not necessary to trim fat but if it seems excessive, feel free.)
Combine dry ingredients and use half to rub on top of brisket, then turn over (fat-side up) and rub remainder on.
Drizzle a bit of the liquid smoke on top (optional).
Cut onion into thick slices and place flat on brisket.

Roast for 8 hours at 200° F., remove from oven, place on cutting board and slice thinly across grain. Top with your favorite barbecue sauce (optional).
Serve with Cole slaw, beans, mashed potatoes and the onion slices.

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