Despite the fact that Valentine’s Day is a totally commercialized holiday, we always seem to end up participating in all the festivities. For the last few years, though, we’ve stayed home and just made ourselves a special meal. In the last year or so, our culinary experience and perspective has changed a lot, so this year’s meal was extra special. In the midst of stuffing our faces, I told Billy that I really felt like we were in a restaurant — we pulled off restaurant quality food at home for a fraction of the cost.

We had decided a few weeks ago that we wanted to do some kind of veal dish, but hadn’t really figured out what. So we each looked for recipes that sounded perfect, and we ended up deciding on homemade ravioli. Tyler Florence has a recipe for chicken Marsala ravioli filling that sounded amazing, so we decided to substitute veal for the chicken. We made a mushroom-less version of his mushroom cream sauce to go along with the ravioli, too.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Ravioli Filling
– 4 ounces veal scallopini or stew meat, cut into small chunks
– 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
– 1 shallot, diced
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1/8 cup Marsala wine
– 2 thin slices proscuitto, sliced
– 2 bay leaves
– thyme and parsley
– salt and pepper
– 1 tbsp bread crumbs
– 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, divided
– 1 egg
– 1/8 cup heavy cream
Sauce
– 2 tbsp butter
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 5 sage leaves
– salt and pepper
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 1/2 leek, chopped
(the original recipe calls for 6 oz. portobello mushrooms, sliced)

The filling has to cool before filling the pasta, so make sure to account for at least 30 minutes of down-time after cooking before you’re able to fill (this would be a good time to make the pasta if you’re making it fresh).

Heat one tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat and brown the veal. After all sides are nicely browned (about 10 minutes), add the shallots and garlic. Cook for one to two minutes, until the shallot begins to sweat out, then deglaze the pan with the wine. (If you’re feeling brave, you can flambe, but it’s not necessary.) Once the wine has reduced, add the prosciutto, thyme, parsley, bay leaves and salt and pepper. Stir to combine, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs and 1/2 tablespoon of the Parmesan cheese over everything.

Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaves and transfer the mixture to a food processor. Pulse the mixture together until all the meat has broken down, then add the egg, cream, remaining 1/2 tablespoon of Parmesan and tablespoon of oil. Pulse again until everything is thoroughly combined and chill for at least 30 minutes before filling ravioli.

The mushroom-less cream sauce only takes a few minutes, so it’s perfect to start up after you drop the ravioli in boiling water. Melt the butter over medium-low heat and once it begins to bubble, add the garlic and sage leaves. Season with salt and pepper and let the garlic cook out for two to three minutes, or just until it begins to brown. (If you’re following the original recipe and using mushrooms, this is where you would add them to the pan.)

Add the cream to the pan and let it come to temperature slowly, making sure it doesn’t start bubbling around the edges. Once the cream is heated through and the sauce had thickened a bit, remove from the heat and discard the sage leaves. Stir in the leeks and toss immediately with the hot ravioli.

Veal Marsala Ravioli

This was seriously one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. The filling was perfectly moist, a little creamy, full of flavor and had a little bite from the Parmesan cheese. You almost couldn’t tell the ravioli were filled with meat since everything was processed in the food processor, but the texture was just perfect. I really don’t have words to describe how delicious these were. They honestly tasted like something you’d expect from a good quality restaurant. Uh-maz-ing. We will most definitely be making these again and again, and I think you should, too!

The sauce was creamy and buttery, and the crunch from the leeks added a great component to the overall dish. I’m not a fan of mushrooms to begin with, but I don’t even think they were necessary in this dish — they would have taken away from the flavor of the filling.

Our Valentine's Meal

Both recipes can be found on the Food Network Web site, courtesy of Tyler Florence (each is linked separately above). We got the idea for heart-shaped ravioli from Annie’s Eats. To make them, we just used a cookie cutter to cut out each heart, put some filling on one of them, brushed some egg wash all around the edge, then pressed another heart over top.

P.S. That candle in the background…Billy made it!

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