Saturday, May 3, 2014

An Old Family Recipe - Ricotta Cavatelli

A friend of mine recently helped me with a project. To thank her I made her a batch of My Great Grandmother's Ricotta Cavatelli. I posted this recipe a while back. The story is that I was reading an article in the food section of our local newspaper about a woman and her Cavatelli recipe.  This woman's name rang a bell when I read it. It was my mother's cousin. She was sharing her grandmother's Ricotta Cavatelli recipe! Yes, that would make it My Great Grandmother's Ricotta Cavatelli recipe. Unfortunately, after my Mom passed, I had no contact with anyone other than a few cousins. But at least I have this recipe...

My Great Grandmother's Ricotta Cavatelli

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese
1 extra large egg
¼ cup whole milk

Measure flour, baking powder and salt onto a large wooden board or onto your counter. Make a well into the center, and measure the ricotta, the egg, and the milk into the well. Using your hands, start mixing the ingredients together, scooping and squeezing the ingredients together until it begins to come together into a dough. Then start kneading the dough for about 10 minutes, until it is smooth, and you can form it into a large ball.

A good sign that the dough is ready is when your hands are clean rather than sticky with wet dough and flour. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Set a few sheet pans nearby for holding your cavatelli as you shape them later. Line your sheet pans with either kitchen towels or parchment paper, then lightly dust them with flour. Set up your Cavatelli machine, I assume everyone has one of these, or lightly flour a counter top for hand-shaping your cavatelli.

Cut the dough in half. Dust the board or a counter with a little flour, then set the half of the dough onto the board or counter. Dust the top of the dough with a little flour, then using a rolling pin, roll the dough into about an 11-inch by 12-inch rectangle, about ¼-inch thick. Dust the top with a little bit of flour, just a light dusting to prevent sticking when you shape the cavatelli.

Cut the rolled-out dough into ½-inch wide strips. If using a Cavatelli machine, set a parchment paper lined cookie sheet under the machine and, feed 1 strip of dough at a time into the machine with 1 hand, while turning the hand-crank with the other. The cavatelli will come out onto the cookie sheet. Spread them out in a single layer to prevent them from sticking to each other. Continue with the remaining dough, filling the sheet pans with cavatelli.

If you are hand-forming them (God Bless You), cut 1 strip at a time, and cut the strip into ½-inch pieces. Using your index and middle fingers, press your fingers into each piece, 1 at a time, gently pushing into the dough, while pulling your finger toward you, to form a free-form shell. Place them onto the flour-dusted lined cookie sheets and repeat until you have formed all your cavatelli.

Now, you can cook them right away or you can freeze them for up to 3 months. If you want to freeze them, place the cookie sheets, on a flat shelf in the freezer and let them freeze for a couple of hours, then you can turn the frozen cavatelli into bags or other freezer containers (label and date them) and keep them in the freezer for future use.

To cook: bring a large pot, an 8-quart pot is perfect, of lightly salted water to a boil in a covered pot over high heat. When the water reaches a boil, carefully add the cavatelli (fresh or frozen) and don't stir them for about a minute or they'll stick together. After about a minute, stir the cavatelli.
After about 5-8 minutes (the exact time will depend on if they are fresh or frozen, and how long it takes for your water to return to a boil) you will see the cavatelli float to the top. Stir them again. Taste for doneness. When they are cooked to your preference, drain them into a colander placed in your sink. Turn the cavatelli into a serving bowl and top with your favorite sauce and toss gently. Serve with grated cheese, Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, or other, and freshly cracked black pepper if desired. Makes 8-12 servings, about 3 pounds.


Lucia from Madison said...

To the person who just posted the comment about trying the recipe and liking it, Thank You! I accidently deleted your comment instead of publishing it. I am sorry! I appreciate you visiting the blog and so happy you enjoyed the recipe!

Lucia from Madison said...

I found the comment, It was posted by Anonymous -
" I have been making ricotta cavatelli for years. This is the FIRST recipe I HAVE TRIED WHERE THE CAVATELLI WERE NOT GUMMY. This makes a great cavatelli. I will hand this one down in my family recipes. Thank you for sharing!"