Egg Yolk Ravioli With Black Pepper & Pecorino

February  2, 2022
4 Ratings
Photo by Pasta Social Club
  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • makes 8 to 10 ravioli
Author Notes

In 1974, chefs Nino Bergese and Valentino Marcattilii of the Michelin-starred Ristorante San Domenico in Imola (near Bologna, in Italy) changed ravioli forever. Encased within delicate sheets of egg pasta and a towering nest of spinach and ricotta was an egg yolk. With one satisfying cut, the humble yolk became unctuous liquid gold, pooling alongside the cheesy filling and top-quality butter to create a decadent sauce. The dish was, of course, finished with a shower of freshly shaved truffles.

Egg yolk ravioli, or uovo in raviolo, are more common today, but they’re no less spectacular. So if you’re looking to impress someone this Valentine’s Day—or any day, for that matter—look no further. Michelin stars or not, these ravioli are simpler to make than they seem. I’ve opted for a cacio-e-pepe-style filling (since the classic Roman dish is our family’s Valentine’s Day favorite), but any thick, pipable mixture like this mushroom filling or this caramelized onion filling will do. Serve egg yolk ravioli with any butter sauce to keep the focus on the yolk; this one’s a mixture of fresh herbs and butter, but I imagine swapping in guanciale for the herbs (gricia meets carbonara vibes) would be excellent, too.

A few tips:
• For making pasta dough by hand, use the well method.

• Two tools will serve you well here: a pasta machine and a piping bag. The key to fully cooked pasta with a runny egg yolk is very thin pasta sheets, which for most (myself included) is best accomplished with a machine as opposed to hand-rolling. A piping bag will make it much easier to create the filling “nest” that holds the yolk in place. A large zip-top bag with a corner snipped off will work in a pinch.

• Use thick, high-quality, whole-milk ricotta (I Iike Calabro) that can stand tall—pat it dry between paper towels or drain it if you need to. A very soft, runny filling won’t encase the yolk properly.

• To separate the eggs, I prefer to crack them into a bowl and gently scoop up each yolk with my hands, passing it back and forth between them to remove all of the whites. You can do them all at once or one at a time, but make sure to place each yolk in its own small bowl or cup.

• These ravioli are decadent, so two per person is usually plenty. Use the leftover dough and filling as you please: Make more classic ravioli (see my tutorial here). Or cut the dough into any pasta shape, cook it, then thin out the filling with some pasta water into a creamy sauce. Leftover pasta—but not egg yolk ravioli—can be frozen in a single layer on a semolina-dusted sheet pan until solid, about 25 minutes, then transferred to a freezer bag and frozen for up to 3 months.

• It’s best to cook these ravioli as soon as you’re done making them, but they’ll keep on a semolina-dusted sheet pan uncovered in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours.

• Use the leftover egg whites in meringues, angel food cakes, frittatas or omelets, or shake into cocktails. They can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. —Meryl Feinstein, Pasta Social Club

What You'll Need
  • For the Pasta & Filling
  • 250 grams (2 cups) ‘00’ pasta flour or all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 50 grams (5 tablespoons) semolina or semola rimacinata flour (if unavailable, use the same weight in ‘00’ or all-purpose flour)
  • 170 grams eggs (about 3 large eggs plus 1 large yolk)
  • 3 grams (1 teaspoon) whole black peppercorns or 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 225 grams (1 cup) whole-milk ricotta, drained of excess liquid if needed
  • 85 grams (3 ounces) finely grated Pecorino Romano, plus more to taste
  • Kosher salt
  • Large egg yolks (1 for each raviolo you plan to make)
  • For the Sauce & Serving
  • 115 grams (1 stick, ½ cup) unsalted butter, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 to 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 whole cloves (optional)
  • Fennel pollen, for serving (optional)
  1. For the Pasta & Filling
  2. Make the pasta dough: Make the pasta dough by hand according to the well method (see Author Notes). Alternatively, add the flour and 170 grams of the eggs to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse together until beads of dough (roughly the size of couscous) start to form, about 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a work surface, combine it into a mass, and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, until smooth and firm.

    Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and allow it to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to a couple of hours.
  3. Make the filling: If using whole peppercorns, toast them in a small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until fragrant, 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and process until semi-fine. (I prefer this method for stronger flavor and texture.)

    Combine the ricotta, pecorino, and black pepper in a food processor or mixing bowl. Pulse or mix vigorously to combine until smooth and creamy. Add more pecorino and/or pepper if you’d like; season to taste with salt. Transfer the filling to a piping bag and refrigerate until use.
  4. Roll out the pasta sheets: Line a sheet pan with semolina flour, cornmeal, or a dry dish cloth and keep it nearby. Cut off one-third of the dough and rewrap the remainder immediately.

    Flatten the dough with the heel of your hand until it’s about ¼ inch thick. Set your pasta machine to its widest setting and roll the dough through once (it will be tapered at the ends). Rotate the dough 90 degrees and fold both ends into the center like an envelope, so the width of the pasta sheet is similar in width to the pasta roller (about 6 inches). Roll the dough through the widest setting once more—aligning the widths—so the result is a mostly even rectangle.

    Continue rolling the pasta through the machine once on each progressive setting until you have a very thin sheet (setting 7 on a Marcato Atlas 150 manual roller and the KitchenAid attachment). If the dough is at all sticky as it goes through the machine, or if the surface starts to tear, dust both sides with a little ‘00’ or all-purpose flour.

    Trim off any uneven ends of the pasta sheet (ball up the scraps and wrap them in plastic to rehydrate—they can be rerolled at the end). Cut the sheet in half crosswise. Cover one of the halves with a damp dish cloth to prevent it from drying out. Cut the other half in half crosswise once more, so you’re left with two large squares.
  5. Assemble the ravioli: With the piping bag tip snipped to about ½ inch, pipe an open circle of filling in the center of one of the squares—it should be large enough to fit an egg yolk snugly (you can use the blunt side of a cookie cutter or rim of a glass to mark an outline if you’d like). Then pipe another layer of filling on top of the first, so you have a little nest. Very carefully slide one egg yolk (placed in a small cup or bowl) into the nest. If needed, pipe a little more filling around the yolk.

    Add a small amount of water around the filling with your finger. Gently lay the other half of the pasta sheet on top. Push out any air pockets around the filling, lifting the top sheet of pasta to remove the air as needed, then press around the filling firmly to seal.

    Using a fluted pasta cutter, sharp knife, or large cookie cutter, trim the excess pasta dough into a square or round however large you like—if it’s still soft and hydrated, add it to the scrap ball for the rest of your ravioli; if it’s dry, cut it into pieces and save them for a snack or soup.

    Firmly pinch the edges of the raviolo to seal once more and thin them out (if you’d like, use the tines of a fork to press the edges closed, too). Transfer the raviolo to the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the other half of the pasta sheet, and repeat from Step 5 with the remaining two-thirds of dough until you have as many ravioli as you’d like. (With this amount of filling and dough, you should be able to make 8 to 10 egg yolk ravioli.)
  1. For the Sauce & Serving
  2. Make the sauce and cook the ravioli: Melt half of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and the sage leaves and fry, swirling the pan occasionally, until the leaves have darkened in color and are fragrant and crisp, about 2 minutes, and the butter starts to just barely brown, if at all. Transfer only the sage to a paper-towel-lined plate.

    Return the pan with the butter to medium heat. Add the rosemary, thyme, and cloves (if using), as well as the remaining butter and another pinch of salt. Cook until fragrant and the butter is barely melted, swirling the pan often, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a gentle (not rolling) boil, then salt it generously. Working with no more than 4 of the ravioli at a time, cook until the edges are tender, about 5 minutes. Use the back of a spoon to push the edges under the water as needed. Cook the remaining ravioli.
  4. Return the butter to medium heat and discard the rosemary, thyme, and cloves. Transfer the ravioli to the sauce with a spider, sieve, or a slotted spoon and swirl gently to coat, using a spoon to baste the butter over the pasta. Divide among plates and top with the fried sage leaves and a sprinkle of fennel pollen, if you’d like. Serve immediately.

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Meryl Feinstein is a chef and pastaia who left the corporate world for the food industry in 2018. After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education, Meryl got her start at the renowned New York establishments Lilia and Misi, where she was part of the pasta production team. During that time, Meryl founded Pasta Social Club, a platform that brings people together over a shared love of food, learning, and making connections both on- and offline. She now lives in Austin, where she hosts virtual pasta-making workshops and develops recipes. Her dishes draw on her travels in Italy, ongoing research into the rich history of traditional pasta-making, and her Jewish heritage.

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