Sunday, 1 July 2012
Back in 2007, a few days after our wedding, Jonas and I visited Rockpool, back in it's original iteration when it was one of Sydney's finest, and ordered their extensive degustation menu with premium matching wines. It still stands as the most expensive meal of my entire life, and with the same money we could have bought an overseas airfare and possibly accommodation. Don’t ask, suffice to say it was expensive.
But the memory was also priceless, as it was our wedding gift to each other and many of the dishes we ate on that evening have remained with us.
One in particular was an apple and chestnut ravioli, a dish served to Jonas in his vegetarian days. It was a confusion of sweet and savoury apple and cinnamon and herbs. A clever combination that was executed perfectly.
This year, as one of my 2012 Food Challenges, I decided I needed to recreate recipes I had experienced at restaurants. This was one of them, but I decided to put my own twist on it by using smoked apples, that I hot smoked myself in my Nipper Kipper smoker.
While it was a somewhat complicated recipe (a lot of steps to go through), I feel really rewarded for my efforts.
It was a very elegant dish and would be a big hit at a swanky dinner party.
Unfortunately for me, every shop I visited was out of wonton wrappers so when I finely found some they were square rather than round. Please go with the round versions, they will be much prettier.
And be sure to top your dishes with fresh herbs. They really cut through the intensity of the rich glaze sauce.
I used butter and chicken stock, but you could easily make this a vegetarian version with veggie stock or a vegan version with olive oil instead of butter and go with non-egg-based pasta.
Any leftover ravioli filling can be set in the fridge and eaten as a vegetarian paté.
Smoked Apple & Chestnut Ravioli w Cinnamon Apple Butter
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 4.
2 green apples
32 round egg wonton wrappers (for 16 ravioli)
2 tablespoons chopped sage
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon smoked salt
½ white onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
1½ smoked apple, chopped
100g chestnut purée
Butter for frying
Beaten egg, for sealing wonton wrappers
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup verjuice
Sprig of lemon thyme, picked over
½ smoked apple, chopped
½ cup chicken consommé
¼ cup boiling water
1 teaspoon sugar
Fresh sage leaves, small and picked over
For the smoked apples
1. I peeled mine but left the core in.
2. Then I sprinkled about a tablespoon of dampened apple wood dust over some aluminium foil, placed my rack above it, then placed the two apples in and shut the top.
3. With the mentholated spirits lit, I removed the apples after about 20 minutes. This was probably about 5-10 minutes of heating up and 5-10 minutes of pure smoking.
4. When I removed them, they were warm, still fairly white and the outside was mildly soft but the inside was still hard.
5. I didn’t want to cook them any more than this as the smoke flavour would become overwhelming and somewhat acrid, ruining the balance of the dish.
6. Core each apple and chop into cubes: 1½ apples will go into the ravioli and ½ an apple will go into the sauce.
For the sauce
1. In a pan, heat the butter, onion powder, ground cinnamon, black pepper and salt until butter starts to brown and bubble.
2. Add verjuice and lemon thyme and bring to the boil.
3. Add apple, sugar, chicken consommé and boiling water, then bring to the boil and reduce for 5 minutes.
4. The sauce is done when the apple is soft and the liquid has reduced to a dark brown glaze (about ½ cup).
5. Keep warm while you cook the ravioli.
For the ravioli
1. Using a little butter, sauté onion and garlic until soft. Set aside.
2. Heating a little extra butter, add the sage leaves and heat until almost crispy. Set aside.
3. Using the sage-scented butter, add the chopped apples, smoked salt and pepper and fry until the apple is browned and soft.
4. Put the chestnut purée, cooked apple, onion and sage into the food processor and blend into a purée.
5. Line a tray or plastic container with baking paper, for the ravioli.
6. Lay wonton wrappers out on flat surface and brush with beaten egg (egg wash).
7. Put small dollops of purée on half the wrappers, then top them with the remaining wrappers, being sure the gently press out any air pockets when sealing them.
8. Lay the finished ravioli on the baking tray, with paper baking between layers to prevent sticking. Refrigerate for 5 minutes (to firm) or until ready to cook.
9. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, then simmer ravioli until it rises to the surface and the pasta is cooked through.
10. Drain onto paper towels then plate, drizzling with sauce and apples, sage and thyme leaves.