My neighbor, Gordon Longhta, generously gives us chestnuts from his trees each year; this is my favorite way to use them. If you can’t get chestnuts, baking potato makes a good substitute.
For the filling:
- 2 oz. pancetta or lightly smoked bacon, finely chopped
- 1/4 c. finely chopped onion
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 c. roasted, shelled, skinned and coarsely chopped chestnuts, or substitute lightly mashed baked russet potato
- 1/4 c. water
- 1 large Granny Smith or other tart apple,1/2 peeled and the other left unpeeled for garnish
- 1 T. cider vinegar
- 1/4 c. freshly grated Parmagiano Reggiano cheese, plus additional for serving
- 1 T. minced flat leaf parsley
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For the sauce
- 9 T. unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 T. thinly sliced fresh sage leaves
- 3 T. minced onions, NOT super-sweet
- 1/2 c. reserved pasta cooking water
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Put the mixture in a bowl and mash the ingredients to a coarse purée. Stir in the potato if using.
Core the peeled apple half and finely dice enough to measure 1/4 c. When the chestnut mixture is completely cooled, add the apple and cheese to it. Core the unpeeled apple half, and cut into thin matchsticks. Place in a bowl and toss with the vinegar. Set aside for garnish.
To finish the dish:
While the ravioli are cooking, heat the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat until it starts to brown. Add the sage and onion or shallot and cook until the sage is crisp, the onion is softened, and the butter is golden brown.
Add about 1/2 c. of the cooking liquid to the skillet, stir to combine, and gently add the ravioli. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the ravioli are thoroughly cooked through and have absorbed some of the sauce. Add a little more cooking liquid if necessary. Season to taste.
Serve immediately, garnished with the reserved apple matchsticks. Pass additional cheese. Makes approximately 24 ravioli.
To roast chestnuts: Soak chestnuts in hot tap water for 1 hr. Cut an X in their flat sides and roast on a baking sheet in a single layer for 30 minutes in a 350 degrees oven.