(tasty Swabian ravioli pockets for 8 "verhungert" players)
Maultaschen are the German equivalent of ravioli. The name means
"mouth pockets". They are a dish common to the southern German
areas of Swabia and Bavaria, or Baden-Wurttemburg if you prefer, and
can can be ordered in any restaurant in cities such as Stuttgart, Ulm,
and Munich. Like ravioli, they are simply pasta pillows filled with a
variety of ingredients. While maultaschen are served year-round, they
are especially popular during the weeks leading up to Easter, i.e.
Lent. Maultaschen were supposedly invented as a sneaky way of having
meat during Lent, by grinding up the meat with spinach and hiding it in
pasta to disguise it from God. The dish is so common the Swabian city
of Stuttgart that the insult "maultaschenfresser" is sometimes snidely
directed at that area's inhabitants; the word means 'those who consume
maultaschen like gluttons'. The two most common ways of serving
maultaschen are as as a soup, boiling them in beef broth similarly to
won ton soup, or else chopped and fried with eggs and/or onions.
About this recipe, note that there are hundreds of ways to make the
maultaschen, and just as many variations on ways to eat them. But in
order to remain maultaschen, they must have a filling containing meat
ground (most commonly beef and pork) with spinach and that filling must
be contained within the pasta pockets. Use the following recipe as a
starting point for your own variations; and take all the liberties you
want with the serving methods, as this recipe suggests only a basic and
somewhat bland beginning.
[NOTE: this makes enough filling for perhaps two batches (feeding 16 persons) due to economy of raw ingredients; you can refrigerate the unused portion for a few days, or you may try to use half the ingredients (if doing so, use 2 eggs) if you only intend to feed 8 people]
1 10 oz package of chopped frozen spinach
5oz beef breakfast sausages (e.g. 7 links from a package of Banquet brand Brown 'n Serve sausage)
5oz pork breakfast sausages (e.g. 7 links from a package of Banquet brand "Original" Brown 'n Serve sausage)
1 large white onion
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs (e.g. Progresso brand Plain Bread Crumbs, or crushed croutons, or 2 slices crumbled dry white bread)
2 tbsp (tablespoon) parsley flakes
1/2 tsp (teaspoon) ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground thyme
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp minced garlic
6 cup whole wheat (or plain white) flour
1/2 cup water (or, 8 tbsp)
You will also need a large wooden rolling pin and some version of ravioli maker (probably the best kind is the one that looks like a cross between an ice cube tray and a muffin tin, with serrated ridges between the indentations. If possible, get once that has larger, rather than smaller, pockets.
IF MAKING SOUP
6 14 oz can beef broth
2 large white onion, chopped
2 tsp salt (or, to taste)
2 tbsp parsley flakes
1 tbsp minced garlic
IF MAKING FRIED MAULTASCHEN ("Maultaschen gebraten mit Ei" or
"Maultaschen gebraten mit Zweibel")
Making the Filling
Mix parsley and all spices in a bowl, and put aside. Chop onion. Thaw sausage and spinach, then combine them with the onion, bread crumbs and mixed spices in a food processor until you have a uniform fine green mixture with no discernable particles of meat or onion. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in the eggs. Put aside.
Making the Pasta
Mix flour, eggs and water until a ball of consistent dough is
obtained. If too wet, knead in a bit more flour. If too stiff, knead in
a small amount of water. Using a sturdy clean counter top or table top,
dust it lightly with white flour. Divide the ball of dough into eight
equal sections. The maultaschen will be made in four batches, with each
batch consisting of the number of pockets your ravioli maker tray
can produce. Each batch will use two of the eight dough sections.
Place a dough section on the floured table, and press down with your hands to flatten it somewhat. Dust its top with flour, and proceed to roll forwards and backwards with the rolling pin to produce a long narrow strip of pasta dough. Dust with more flour if the rolling pin starts to stick. Once the strip of dough is a couple of inches longer than your ravioli maker tray, start rolling it sideways to make it wider, until it is a couple of inches wider than the ravioli maker tray. The sheet of dough should be no more than 1mm, or perhaps 1/16", thick. Lightly dust the entire top surface with flour and place it floured side down on top of the ravioli maker tray. Repeat the rolling process with another of the eight dough sections, making the dough sheet to fit on top of the sheet currently on the ravioli maker tray.
Press the first sheet of dough down into one of the recesses in the
ravioli maker tray, using a similarly sized round measuring spoon or
your fingers, and spoon some filling into the recess. The amount of
filling you add will depend on the size of your ravioli maker, but be
careful not to overfill the recesses. Repeat for all the other recesses
on the ravioli maker tray. Use you fingers or a brush to spead a little
bit of water across the top of the second sheet of dough; this will
make it a bit sticky, so that it will bond with the first sheet when
they are pressed together in the next step. Place the wetted second
sheet, wet side down, on top of the first sheet that is in the ravioli
maker tray. Use the rolling pin to roll from the center towards one end
of the tray, then from the center to the other end of the tray,
repeating with more pressure until the two sheets are firmly pinched
together in the serrated sections of the tray between the recesses.
Turn the tray upside down over a sheet of waxed paper, and the
maultaschen pockets should fall out. Use a knife if necessary to
separate them, and pinch any leaking or problem areas where you see
that the two pasta layers are not sealed together.
Repeat three more times with the other six dough sections, making
three more batches of maultaschen. You should end up with perhaps 6
pockets per person, for 8 people.
Preparing Maultaschen Soup
Boil the broth and other soup ingredients, except for the maultaschen, in a large pot until the onions are translucent. Add the maultaschen and keep strirring at a boil for about 15 minutes. Taste and add more salt or other spices to your own preference. Serve
Preparing Fried Maultaschen
Bring the beef broth and water and salt to a boil, and add the maultaschen. Stir at the boil for about 12 minutes, then remove the maultaschen from the liquid, saving that liquid for later. Dice the maultaschen with a large knife or cleaver until they are reduced to a few pieces per maultaschen pocket. In a large frying pan, melt the fat (or butter), stir in the onions and maultaschen pices and fry until the onions are done. Add a little of the saved broth and stir fry a bit. Serve, or if you want the eggs, add them at this time, and stir until they are solid, then serve.
Copyright Paul Schmidt 2009
added February 2009