Deconstructing Dinner: Crabmeat Ravioli with Saffron Cream Sauce

A couple of weeks ago, we staged a engagement dinner party in honor of our friends Ray and Melissa of Bathtub Brewery.  Since that time, my procrastination in getting anything written about that evening has let Steph of beat me to the punch, thus giving me the freedom to explore some of the dishes that we served that night in greater detail.

One of the courses that we served was a Crabmeat Ravioli with Saffron Cream Sauce.  I had a hankering to do a handmade pasta, but the timing of my preparation made me wary of spending the afternoon cutting noodles.  As I had never made ravioli before, I decided to try my hand at a single large ravioli per person, encasing some sort of seafood filling and served in a cream sauce.  Since it’s still summer, I wanted the pasta course to be lighter – if this were happening two months from now, I’d be all over the unctuous meaty fillings.

Using the same pasta dough recipe as with the previous engagement dinner party, I rolled out the dough, progressively reducing the width of the rollers until I had reached the second-to-last thinnest setting.  In retrospect, next time I’ll take it all the way to the last setting – I like very thin ravioli, and these tended to be on the doughy, thickish side.

For the filling, I flipped through a number of sources, finally settling on a recipe for a simple crabmeat filling with carrots and tomatoes, which took all of fifteen minutes to whip together, but which then had to cool in the fridge for a while before I went about filling the ravioli.

The timesaving feature of ravioli is that you can basically just roll a sheet of pasta and use a knife to cut four-inch squares, and by that point you’re halfway done with assembly.  Using a pastry brush, I brushed the edges of each pasta square with some beaten egg, mounded some filling in the center, and then carefully laid a matching square over it, using a fork to crimp the edges to ensure a tight seal.  I placed the ravioli in the refrigerator to hold them until dinner, although another lesson learned – they dried out a bit, which may have contributed to their doughy, brittle nature in the final dish.  Next time, I may experiment with slipping them directly into boiling water after assembly, and holding them in a cooked state.

The saffron cream sauce was a quick, last-minute preparation.  I sauteed some chopped shallot in butter, added some white wine, allowing the wine to boil down, then poured in some heavy cream.  Add a pinch of saffron, bring to a boil, and reduce by half.  The ravioli were put into a large pot of boiling water for about a minute and a half, and the dish was ready to be assembled and served.

I’m not including a recipe with this entry, because there are many improvements that I can make with this dish, both in ingredients and technique, and I am reluctant to post recipes unless I can guarantee consistent results.