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I been making ravioli this past week (3 types, butternut squash, various fungi, and spinach for those interested).

Now I'm onto the meat. Its a pork, beef, and veal mixture.

My question is, do I need to cook the mixture before stuffing into the ravioli? If I do cook it, I'm worried the fat in the meat will make it so that everything won't stick together and therefore be harder to stuff.

On the other hand If I don't cook the meat, I'm worried the raviolis will have to cook too long for the filling to be cooked and the pasta will be way overcooked.

Which is the proper way?

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I don't know--I've never been stuffed into ravioli. ;) –  bikeboy389 Jan 24 '11 at 20:13
    
How big are they going to be? I figure you should still cook the filling first. If they're really tiny though, it may not matter. Have you already made them? –  Chad Jan 25 '11 at 15:59
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4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Yes, cook the meat before stuffing into the ravioli. If you are worried about your mixture being too fatty (which I didn't experience with a non-traditional beef and bacon ravioli), make sure to drain the meat well after cooking, perhaps patting it with clean paper towels to remove excess grease.

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If you're really worried about excess fat, you can put the browned meat in a wire colander/strainer and rinse it quickly in hot water. You'll only lose a little flavor (well, OK, MOST of the fat flavor) but depending on what else you are mixing with the ground beef you will have a leaner mix very easily. –  Doug Johnson-Cookloose Jan 25 '11 at 2:48
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Yes cook it before hand - and then I believe you're going to want to cook those ravioli until they float (showing that they are done)

If you don't cook the filling, by the time that it's good to go the pasta will be way over-cooked and not that tasty.

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Actually, not many people realize this but floating is not a reliable indicator of doneness. This myth was addressed by Hervé This in his Molecular Gastronomy book where he determined that the floating is actually just caused by air bubbles on the outside of the pasta/dumplings, which is often similar to the time it takes to cook, but entirely independent. Variations in shapes and sizes could conceivably result in undercooked food using the "float test". –  Aaronut Jan 24 '11 at 21:25
    
+1 For schooling me on this one. –  PSU_Kardi Jan 24 '11 at 21:47
    
+1 and I would love to see some video or data. I've never assumed it meant they were done, but always linked the two in that I usually wouldn't bother checking the pasta until it was at least starting to float. –  Chad Jan 25 '11 at 15:57
    
And even if the meat managed to be cooked without overcooking the pasta, I would have to imagine it would be very nasty. I'm imagining some mealy-textured meat sitting in a pocket of grease and throwing up in my mouth a little. –  Sean Hart Jan 28 '11 at 18:29
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If you are speaking about the Italian (our lovely one) recipe, yes, you have to cook it as long as possible and adding salt just at the end, this is the secret to avoid it'll loose a lot of water. In fact we use a stew finely chopped by a mixer to fill the ravioli.

I usually fried with carrots, celery, garlic and onion (finely chopped), then brown the meat on both sides to close the pores and then add a glass of good red wine and I cover with the lid.

it is important to lower the heat at the lowest possible and keep the pot covered. For a piece of at least 400gr of meat you have to cook it for at least 4 hours, adding a bit of wine in the case the meat will be dried (if you cover well and you have a low heat, it won't happen).

To understand if the heat it's OK you will hear the the meat frying slowly but there will be not steam escaping the pot (or at least just a bit).

You can add other spices if you like, but none containing salt, salted ones have to be added just at the end, when meat is already cooked (even better while you are mixing the meat with eggs)

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Italian perspective: yes, because the short time the ravioli stay in the boiling water is not enough to cook the meat. And this is particularly important if you are going to use pork in your filling. If you are worried about the filling being too loose, you can add a binder: you can try egg or ricotta cheese. At least this is what I would do.

Also, depending on how much fat is there in your meat mix, you may want to drain it a bit after cooking. But I would try to avoid that as much as possible, since a lot of the flavorants are fat soluble, and you are going to loooooose them down the drain. So sad.

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