Saturday, November 10, 2012

Recreating an Experience and Making it Your Own

For the last several months my husband and I have been going to beer and food pairings. I have never been a big beer drinker. I was a Coors Light drinker for years and in the last few years I have become a fan of the wheat beer. We have a local brewery Hangar 24 that started offering Flight Formations where they pair a type of food with their beers. Man has this been mind blowing. Who knew some of these bitter beers were actually good?

Several weeks ago we attended a beer and food pairing dinner at Farm Artisan Foods in Redlands. This was our first fine dining beer dinner there. Let me say all the food and beer were incredible. Roberto & his team outdid themselves. One of the dishes we had was a butternut squash ravioli with sage brown butter, served with Ommegang Scythe & Sickle beer. Now this was the best beer/food pairing that I have ever had.

Over one weekend we went out on a beer collecting trip. We went looking for some of the beers we had a few weeks ago at three different stores. We were lucky to find the beer from Ommegang and we brought that home. So now it was my turn to try to recreate the dish we had at The Farm.
Flour with a well with eggs, olive oil, & salt.

Now I was ready to get to work. I had some butternut squash from the farmer's market and I was ready to make homemade pasta. I happen to have Roberto's recipe for pasta so half the battle was done there. In the oven went the squash and then it was time to make the pasta. I like to do it the old fashioned way, by hand flat on the counter, no bowl required. Once the pasta was made and resting I went to work with the baked squash getting it pureed.

Roasted butternut squash.
Pureeing squash is easy. Once it is baked where a knife will slide in and out easily let it cool slightly then scoop the flesh out of the skin and put into a food processor or blender and pulse it until the flesh is creamy and smooth. Because squash has a lot of liquid in them I place cheesecloth into a strainer add the puree and let it drain for a few hours. With a large butternut squash you can get close to 1 cup of liquid from it.

Pasta dough with finished filling.
After several hours of separating the liquid from the puree, the squash was ready for me to make the filling. The filling consisted of the butternut puree, shallots, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. More water evaporates when you heat the puree, so it becomes more solid than runny. Adding the cream adds a richness to the filling. While the butternut mixture was cooling it was time to roll out the pasta into sheets to start the assembly process of the ravioli.

Finished ravioli waiting for boiling.
After you assemble the ravioli you then cut out the shape desired and place on a floured pan so it does not stick while you are finishing the other raviolis. The ravioli does dry out a bit, but don't worry about it. You then bring salted water to a boil and add a few of the finished ravioli at a time as not to crowd the pot and cook until the ravioli is tender. About 7 minutes.

Butternut squash ravioli ready to be eaten.
While the ravioli is cooking in a saute pan melt butter and let it begin to brown. Add fresh sage leaves and allow them to crisp up. Once the butter achieves a nice brown color without burning remove from heat. Place finished ravioli on a plate, spoon over brown butter and sage, finish dish with grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and parsley. It is now time to eat the fruits of you labor.

Making pasta may seem a bit labor intensive and time consuming, but in reality it can be done in less than an hour and fillings or sauces can be made while the pasta dough is resting. This is something you can get the whole family involved with and what kids don't enjoy helping make dinner? It is also a way to introduce your family to vegetables in fillings that they might normally not eat. Have fun with pasta and for the adults try a beer you wouldn't ordinarily have with food.  Enjoy!

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