I’ve always loved the Raviolis Maison at L'Express, but they cost around $16 for five. Now I know why. I decided to try to duplicate them. I was lucky enough to get a recipe of the dish by Joël Chapoulie, the chef of L’Express, through my friend Shelley, and set about trying it out. It was pretty close, and now you can do it too. Note: although I made the ravioli pasta from scratch, you can use wonton wrappers to make the ravioli. And also note: this is a picture of MY raviolis, not L'Express's! Don’t bother making the raviolis from scratch unless you have a pasta machine; they’ll be too thick.
Freeze the raviolis after you make them and you can resurrect them on demand. About 5 or 6 with the sauce will make a full meal.
L'Express Raviolis Maison
For the filling (this step can be done the morning of the meal or the night before, but you want it cold before making the raviolis.):
1 lb mixture of ground veal, ground pork and ground beef
2 large shallots, minced finely
4 cloves garlic, minced finely
1/2 C Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 C white wine
1/2 C veal stock
Cracked black pepper
1 1/2 C finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano (do NOT use pregrated cheese from a container. Using a Microplane grater is highly recommended.)
Sauté the meat in a little bit of olive oil on medium heat, taking care to chop it with a wooden spatula so that it becomes a fine mince. When it has browned and the liquid boiled away (about ten minutes) add the wine and let that reduce until it has been absorbed by the meat.
Remove the meat from the pan and add some more olive oil. Sauté the shallots on medium heat until glassy (about 3 minutes) and add the garlic. Add the meat back to the pan. Liberally sprinkle salt and black pepper. Add oregano and thyme (either fresh or dried); about a tablespoon for each, but you can eyeball it.
In a container, mix the flour and the veal stock until smooth. Add to the meat mixture. Add the parsley and stir well.
Now add the parmesan, making sure to distribute it evenly; you don’t want little clumps of Reggiano in the middle of the filling.
Taste frequently, adding salt as needed (a teaspoon of sugar will help round it out.) You want to end up with a fairly thick, glossy filling that when cold will be easy to shape and not crumble when you make the ravioli. The Reggiano will help as a bonding agent for this and will create great flavor.
When the cheese is thoroughly incorporated throughout the mixture, remove from heat and put the filling into a container in the refrigerator. If it is completely cold it will be much easier to handle as a filling for the ravioli.
The goal in making the filling is that it should taste good enough to be eaten on its own, but provide a burst of flavor when cooked in the ravioli, so adjust seasonings constantly and taste constantly.
1 1/2 C unbleached flour
1 1/2 C durum semolina
5 large eggs
4-5 cloves crushed garlic (optional)
Whisk eggs and garlic together in bowl, add to flours. Mix thoroughly with fork. Knead in bowl with hands until firm enough to transfer to cutting board. Knead until smooth, about 12 minutes, into a ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and let rest for thirty minutes.
Divide into 4 and run sections through pasta machine until the last setting (five on an Imperial pasta machine.)
Cut pasta sheets into approximately one-foot sections, flouring liberally.
For each section, place about one teaspoon of filling per two inches on the bottom half of the pasta sheet.
With a pastry brush, moisten the top half of the pasta sheet with water. Fold over the fillings and carefully press out any air between each filling. Cut out the raviolis with a pastry wheel and trim any excess. Flour liberally and freeze immediately.
To cook, drop frozen ravioli into boiling, salted water. Bring again to boil and remove with a sifter after 8-10 minutes (don’t dump them into a colander.)
10-12 Shiitake, cêpes or other good-quality mushrooms, sliced thinly
2 1/2 cups veal stock
1/2 C sherry
4 cloves garlic
4 T unsalted butter
1 T flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté mushrooms on medium-high heat in two tablespoons butter until they give off their liquid and begin to brown. Add shallots, garlic, sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add sherry; with kitchen match, set alight and flambé.
Add veal stock and reduce for about thirty minutes until syrupy. Add remaining butter and stir well. If still too thin, stir flour into tablespoon of water and add to sauce. Adjust sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over raviolis with chopped parsley and Parmigiano Reggiano.