Mind of a Chef
PBS has an excellent show called Mind of a Chef, narrated by Anthony Bourdain, which features various chefs from around the world. One episode I particularly enjoyed was filmed in Rome, and featured Chef Gabrielle Hamilton. There she blends her New American style of cooking with the Italian influences she encounters on her trip. The dish Raviolo All’uovo con Creman di Spinaci translates into Egg ravioli with spinach cream for those rusty on their Italian.
I made this dish not long after the episode for a dinner party, and it was delicious, simple and elegant. The original recipe has been taken down from You Tube, so I thought I would develop it since it is such a simple and delicious idea. From what I understand, Chef Hamilton has retired from cooking to concentrate on writing. Unfortunately, I did not get to experience her talent at her restaurant, but I hope this homage to her style gives you an idea of what we missed. In her version she did not use the creamed spinach which I do here. Feel free to try it with or without. In this version, the addition of creamed spinach enhances the dish with another layer of flavor and texture.
This recipe begs for quality ingredients. A high quality sliced pancetta, or very thinly sliced prosciutto, butter, pasta, parmesan and fresh eggs are all key to making this dish work. It is easy to prepare and makes a wonderful appetizer or dish for Sunday brunch. Use a high quality butter to make the Buerre Noisette or brown butter.
Gabrielle Hamilton's Raviolo All'uovo or Handkerchief Pasta
- Prepare roasted pine nuts and be careful not to burn. Remove from heat when you see the pine nuts are starting to brown and keep in a cool metal bowl.
- Prepare creamed spinach and keep warm (optional).
- Warm serving dishes in oven. The plates should be warm to the touch not hot.
- Prepare brown butter in a heavy skillet over medium to medium high heat. Keep a close eye on the butter. Once the foaming subsides, the butter will start to brown. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
- In a large pot add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
- Quickly dip the pancetta or prosciutto quickly into the water just to warm up. About 8-10 seconds. Place warmed pancetta in the center of warmed serving plates
- Place a small mound of warmed creamed spinach (if using) on top of the porchetta.
- Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the water and stir. Gently crack eggs into and just above the surface of the water. With a slotted spoon swirl the water around the egg yolk. This will help the egg white to encase the yolk. Cook the eggs for about 2 minutes. Gently remove with a slotted spoon and place on top of the warmed spinach and pancetta.
- Return the water to just boiling and add the fresh homemade pasta sheets to the water and cook for a minute and a half. If you are using dried lasagna sheets, cook according to the instructions on the package and cut after the sheet is already cooked to size you need. Use overlapping sheets if they are not wide enough to cover. (If you wish to use no boil pasta sheets then just warm up for a couple of minutes in the hot water before using.)
- Place a square of pasta on top of each poached egg, spinach and pancetta.
- Drizzle with Buerre Noisette.
- Drizzle with balsamic glaze or balsamic syrup.
- Top the dish with a good quality shaved parmesan and toasted reserved pine nuts.
- Serve immediately.