Friday, September 14, 2012

Chicken Mezzaluna

On the first beach vacation my husband I went on together, I made him "steal" a menu from Carrabba's Italian Grill, where we ate the first night.  He did ask the waitress for permission first (just wanted to clear that up).  This is the point at which he should have known that he was in trouble - a girl obsessed with food and recipes.   I recently found the menu as I was cleaning out a drawer.  Mmm... there are some darned tasty menu items listed.  One of them happened to be a chicken mezzaluna... "Half moon ravioli with chicken, ricotta and spinach in tomato cream sauce." Yum.  So this has become my latest recipe obsession. 
If you've never made homemade pasta, you are in for a treat.  There are only four ingredients, very inexpensive to make, and you can make just about anything you dream up with it.  This recipe makes double the amount of pasta dough that you need, so half can be frozen in a zip top bag for another recipe.  You may as well.  It's the same amount of work and you get an extra recipe out of it. That's a nice time saver! I took the liberty of altering the recipe somewhat... just because.  When you are cooking in your own kitchen,  you TOTALLY have a right to do that! :)  

Also, I have made three different sauces to go on these.  The one below is a white wine, provolone cheese sauce.  Another option I used was to make a homemade Alfredo and add a marinara to it to achieve a blush color.  The simplest, perhaps, is to just mix a jarred spaghetti sauce with some heavy cream to make the sauce.  Finally, I'm thinking a browned butter sauce on top would be really good.  Versatility is king with pasta dishes, which is great.  You can just go where your mood takes you.

The filling for this recipe will make 4 dozen mezzaluna.  The pasta dough will make double that amount.  So freeze half for another day!

Pasta -
  • 4+ cups flour 
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup water
  • 4 eggs
* Not enough time or confidence for making pasta dough?  Try using wonton wrappers rather than make your own dough, for a great shortcut.
Filling - 
  • 1 cup cooked chicken
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh spinach (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter
  • 3+ Tbsp grated Parmigiano reggiano 
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2/3 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Sauce (optional) - 
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • 1-2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • 4 slices provolone cheese, chopped into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup jarred spaghetti sauce
Garnish -
  • oven roasted tomatoes (with EVOO, salt, pepper, basil)
  • chopped fresh basil
  • extra grating of Parmesan cheese

 Step-by-step
Dough -
In a large bowl (or on a wooden chopping block), mix about 3 1/3 cups flour with the salt.  Form a well in the middle, into which you add the eggs and water.  Starting from the inside, mix the liquids into the dry stuff using your fingers, working your way out to the edges.  This is important if you are doing it directly on a chopping block.  If you just swipe through it, the liquids will run out all over the table.  Yes, this has happened a time or two in the past.  When you have a rough ball formed, starting kneading the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and somewhat silky.  This takes me about 10 minutes or so.  The dough ball now needs to rest - so put it into a zip top bag and allow it to rest (30 - 60 min).  This will allow the dough to "relax" so it will stretch out better, not keep shrinking back when you roll it, and be more resistant to tears.  While the dough is resting, make the filling.
3 3/4 - 4 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs, 1/2 cup water

Knead for about 10 minutes

Allow to rest at least 30 minutes
Divide to conquer!

Roll out evenly until about 1/2" thick

Divide into manageable pieces

Start on the widest setting, (at least twice on number 1)
Work your way through consecutively smaller settings

Second to last setting (number 6).  You can see my hand through it.  It is now very silky in texture.
Filling - 
Dump everything together.  You will want to mince the chicken very small - about the size of canned tuna, if not smaller.  I used my old standby, rotisserie chicken.  Huge time saver.
3/4 cup chopped baby spinach (stems removed)
1/4 cup ricotta cheese

3 Tbsp melted butter

1 cup chopped cooked chicken
3 Tbsp grated Parmigiano reggiano cheese

1 tsp Italian seasoning

2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt (or you could use 2 tsp garlic salt)

2/3 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder

Mix, taste, adjust seasonings if necessary
Assembly of the mezzaluna - 
Once the pasta dough has rested, cut it in half so it's more manageable, then roll it out on a lightly floured surface.  You will want it about 1/2" thick or so.  Cut that into thirds so that you can pass it through the pasta roller.  Start on the widest setting and pass it through at least twice, folding in half after the first time.  Then pass the dough through progressively thinner settings going all the way until the second to last one.  The very last one seems to be a bit too thin and fragile in my opinion.  Lay out the sheets on a lightly floured table to prevent sticking while you are doing the others.  Cut the dough into rounds.  
            To me, a 3" round seemed to work best for filling, folding, crimping, etc.  The 2" was pretty tough to get the job accomplished in a timely manner.  The 3" will give you a perfect, two-bite mezzaluna once it is folded and cooked.
We used a 3" cookie cutter with a fluted edge.  The top end of a drinking glass would probably work fine.
Add 1 tsp of filling to each 3" pasta round.  Dip your finger into a cup of water and wet the edges of the pasta.  This will make sealing the pasta round easier. 
          If not, sometimes remnants of flour on the dough makes it hard to achieve a good seal.  If the mezzaluna are not sealed thoroughly, you risk them opening up and losing all of the filling during cooking.
Add 1 tsp of filling to the center of each dough circle.  Wet the edges with a little water.
You may notice that these are not my hands.  These smooth, young hands are those of my babysitter, Caitlin, who was helping out the other day.
Fold over and press to seal.
Set them aside on a large cookie sheet to dry out a bit so they won't be sticky.  
         At this point, they are ready to be cooked.  Or.... after drying to touch, they are ready to be frozen for the future in a zip top bag, or refrigerated for a couple of days for a quick after-work meal.
Set them out to dry a bit.

When you are ready for them, drop them in boiling water for 3 minutes.   Remove them with a spider or a slotted spoon and drop them into your sauce or choice.   
         Fresh pasta does not have all of the preservatives in them as the dried pasta you purchase in the bag, so they cook very quickly.  They will come to the surface and all float when they are ready.  I usually single out one as my "tester," but about 3 minutes for these seems to be the magic number. 
Drop them in boiling water.

They will all start floating when they are ready to be taken out.  (3 minutes for the ones I made)

Remove carefully with a spider or slotted spoon.
Optional..
Provolone Cheese Sauce -
Add minced garlic and shallots to melted butter in a heavy saucepan.  Saute a few minutes on medium until they are softening up, but nothing is browning.  Add a couple of tablespoons of flour to make a basic roux and to stabilize the sauce.  Let it cook a few minutes to get the flour taste cooked out.  Slowly add in some wine or chicken broth (my kids thought the wine flavor was too strong), whisking as you add it until smooth.  To this, you can add the chopped up provolone cheese.  Stir until melted.  Lower the heat to low, and add in the freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Add seasonings - pepper, basil.  I did not add additional salt, because the Parmesan has a lot of salt already.  Slowly add in the cream.  Remember to keep the heat low.  High heat will cause the cream to curdle.  Believe me, this will make you mad!  You've put too much into this to have curdled sauce.  Turn off the heat and add in the spaghetti sauce or marinara.  Stir together to achieve a blush color.   
4 Tbsp melted butter

2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 shallot, minced

1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp flour added to the sauteed vegetables

A basic roux.  Cook a couple of minutes to get the flour taste out.

Add in the wine or chicken broth, whisking as you go.

Now it's getting smooth... still whisking or stirring.

1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 slices of Provolone cheese, chopped

1/2 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp black pepper

1 cup heavy cream - ON LOW HEAT!!!!!

1/4 - 1/2 cup jarred spaghetti or marinara sauce

Now we have a blushing, cheese sauce
Now you have all the components - you can just drop the mezzaluna into the sauce, or add a bed of sauce onto which you plate the mezzaluna.  Then drizzle a little sauce over the top, sprinkle with fresh basil, oven roasted tomatoes, and grated Parmesan and you are ready.  

You may have noticed that I also like to add some oven roasted tomatoes to my plate.  In addition to an amazing pop of color, the acidity in the tomatoes cuts through the richness of the sauce, balancing it out.  To make them, I just cut some grape tomatoes in half, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper, and bake for about 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees F.  They start shriveling and drying out and are SO delicious!! 
Oven roasted tomatoes.
So, there you have it!
 



 


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Written Directions for Chicken Mezzaluna
Dough -   In a large bowl (or on a wooden chopping block), mix about 3 1/3 cups flour with the salt.  Form a well in the middle, into which you add the eggs and water.  Starting from the inside, mix the liquids into the dry stuff using your fingers, working your way out to the edges.  This is important if you are doing it directly on a chopping block.  If you just swipe through it, the liquids will run out all over the table.  Yes, this has happened a time or two in the past.  When you have a rough ball formed, starting kneading the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and somewhat silky.  This takes me about 10 minutes or so.  The dough ball now needs to rest - so put it into a zip top bag and allow it to rest (30 - 60 min).  This will allow the dough to "relax" so it will stretch out better, not keep shrinking back when you roll it, and be more resistant to tears.  While the dough is resting, make the filling.

Filling -   Dump everything together.  You will want to mince the chicken very small - about the size of canned tuna, if not smaller.  I used my old standby, rotisserie chicken.  Huge time saver.

Assembly of the mezzaluna -   Once the pasta dough has rested, cut it in half so it's more manageable, then roll it out on a lightly floured surface.  You will want it about 1/2" thick or so.  Cut that into thirds so that you can pass it through the pasta roller.  Start on the widest setting and pass it through at least twice, folding in half after the first time.  Then pass the dough through progressively thinner settings going all the way until the second to last one.  The very last one seems to be a bit too thin and fragile in my opinion.  Lay out the sheets on a lightly floured table to prevent sticking while you are doing the others.  Cut the dough into rounds.  
          
Add 1 tsp of filling to each 3" pasta round.  Dip your finger into a cup of water and wet the edges of the pasta.  This will make sealing the pasta round easier. 
       
Set them aside on a large cookie sheet to dry out a bit so they won't be sticky.  
        
When you are ready for them, drop them in boiling water for 3 minutes.   Remove them with a spider or a slotted spoon and drop them into your sauce or choice.   
        
Provolone Cheese Sauce -
Add minced garlic and shallots to melted butter in a heavy saucepan.  Saute a few minutes on medium until they are softening up, but nothing is browning.  Add a couple of tablespoons of flour to make a basic roux.  Let it cook a few minutes to get the flour taste cooked out.  Slowly add in some wine or chicken broth (my kids thought the wine flavor was too strong), whisking as you add it until smooth.  To this, you can add the chopped up provolone cheese.  Stir until melted.  Lower the heat to low, and add in the freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Add seasonings - pepper, basil.  I did not add additional salt, because the Parmesan has a lot of salt already.  Slowly add in the cream.  Remember to keep the heat low.  High heat will cause the cream to curdle.  Believe me, this will make you mad!  You've put too much into this to have curdled sauce.  Turn off the heat and add in the spaghetti sauce or marinara.  Stir together to achieve a blush color.   

Now you have all the components - you can just drop the mezzaluna into the sauce, or add a bed of sauce onto which you plate the mezzaluna.  Then drizzle a little sauce over the top, sprinkle with fresh basil, oven roasted tomatoes, and grated Parmesan and you are ready.  

I also like to add some oven roasted tomatoes to my plate.  In addition to an amazing pop of color, the acidity in the tomatoes cuts through the richness of the sauce, balancing it out.  To make them, I just cut some grape tomatoes in half, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper, and bake for about 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees F.  They start shriveling and drying out and are SO delicious!!

I hope you have enjoyed this recipe.  If you'd like to see more of what we cook around here, please visit my Recipe Index.  There are tons of ideas on there of things you can cook for/with your family.  Here are a few things to pique your curiosity:



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1 comment:

  1. This looks amazing! Can't wait to try it!

    ReplyDelete

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