Posted by: acooksca | 06/18/2009

Oxtail-Potato Ravioli with Vegetable Sauce

One of the most popular recipes of the 1930’s was Oxtail Soup. The woman of the house could set oxtails, beef shank or similar tough beef cuts that require hours of cooking in the oven early in the morning and go about her chores. By

Oxtail-potato Ravioli with Vegetable Sauce

Oxtail-potato Ravioli with Vegetable Sauce

lunch time the meat would be fork-tender and the broth rich in beef flavor. She would chop a variety of vegetables… onions, pepper, potatoes, tomatoes, squash… from the garden to simmer in the broth. The beef was removed from the bones and added to the pot with homemade noodles that went in about 10 minutes before serving.

The same ingredients are rearranged in this modern adaptation of Oxtail Soup. The meat and potatoes become a filling for the homemade pasta. The vegetables, simmered briefly into a sauce to retain their bright colors and fresh flavors, accent the roasted meat raviolis. And the beefy-rich broth is used both in the vegetable sauce and as a poaching liquid for the ravioli.

If you have other types of vegetables around or tomato sauce instead of tomato paste in the cupboard … no problem. Making reasonable substitutions to include what you have on hand falls right into line with the cooking style of the 1930’s. If your life does not include making fresh pasta use store bought won ton wrappers. If you prefer, cook the meat and broth the day before and refrigerated them over night.

2 Tbl vegetable oil
3 lbs. oxtails (or other tough cut such as beef shanks), seasoned with salt and pepper
½ bottle red wine
1 onion, peeled and sliced
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
½ pound small yellow potatoes, unpeeled
1 egg
½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Homemade Pasta (or use won ton wrappers, see Cook’s Note below):
2 ½ cups flour plus extra
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbl olive oil
1 tsp. salt

1 small yellow onion peeled and cut into medium dice
2 Tbl olive oil
1 carrot, peeled, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ each red, yellow and green bell pepper, seeded and medium dice
3 ounces (half small can) tomato paste
1 cup white wine or broth
1 cup beef broth
Handful chopped fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme
Salt and Pepper

Early in the day or the day before, braise the beef. Place a large, heavy pot in the oven and preheat to 350. When heated, add 2 Tbl. oil to coat the pan and add the oxtails. Let brown on one side for 15 minutes. Turn meat over to brown on the other side for 15 minutes. Add the wine, onion, garlic, bay leaf and enough water to just come to the top of the meat. Cover and braise for 4 hours, until fork tender. Cool the meat separately from the broth. When the broth is cool, skim of all fat that arises.

Boil the potatoes in water until tender, about 20 minutes, and cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the bones, and finely chop the meat by hand (a processor makes mush of the meat). Roughly mash the potatoes and salt lightly. Combine potatoes, meat, egg, parmesan and enough cracked pepper and salt to be seasoned well (the salt will fade a little in the poaching). Let rest at room temp while you make the pasta, or proceed to fill won ton wrappers to form ravioli.

Homemade Pasta:
In a mixer combine all pasta ingredients with the paddle attachment and continue blending on med-low (this kneads the dough) for 4 minutes. Gather the dough, giving it a few turns by hand to form a smooth ball. Cut into four equal

Forming the ravioli

Forming the ravioli

pieces. Dust the balls lightly with flour and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel to rest 30 minutes (this relaxes the dough and makes it much easier to work with. In the meantime you could make the sauce).

Use a pasta rolling machine to make long strips of dough, 4-inches wide. Roll one ball of dough while the others remain covered. Set the rollers on the widest number for 3 passes of the dough. Gather the sides in and fold the dough like an envelope for each pass through. This evens up the edges of the pasta strip. Then begin narrowing the rollers, passing it through to the desired thinness (on my Kitchen Aid attachment I roll to a thinness of #4). Dough needs to be thin but not ulta-thin, as you would with a more delicate filling.

Lay half a strip at a time on a floured surface. Place teaspoon sized balls of filling on the dough, leaving ½” space between. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing to expel air as you go (see image). Press to seal the dough. Cut into single raviolis. Remove them to a floured surface or waxed paper and continue. Place raviolis in a single layer to prevent them sticking together. When all raviolis are made, cover well. Use them fresh the same day or freeze them. If frozen, do not thaw but cook the dumplings straight from the freezer, adding a few more minutes to the cooking time.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, sauté the onion in 1 Tbl. of oil. Stir occasionally, letting the onion start to brown. Push to one side of the skillet. Add the other Tbl oil and the carrots, letting them start to turn color also. This higher heat cooking brings out the natural sweet flavors of these vegetables. Stir in the garlic, cook 30 seconds. Lower the heat to med.-low and add the peppers. Cook for 2 minutes. Combine the tomato paste and the wine adding this and the beef broth to the skillet. Let simmer 30 minutes until vegetables are just cooked through. Check the seasoning and add salt, pepper and the fresh herbs. Remove from heat, to preserve the fresh texture and flavors. Hold until ready to reheat and use.

To serve:
Heat the sauce and have it on hand. Bring the reserved broth to a boil in a large pot. If necessary add enough water to cover the raviolis as they cook. Poach the raviolis until the pasta in tender (depending on the thickness of your pasta, about 4-7 minutes). Layer the raviolis with sauce in heated serving bowls. The broth left over from poaching can be used for soup or for cooking pasta or grains.

Cook’s Note: I find it difficult to get the pasta thin enough with rolling by hand. If I don’t have the time or ambition to make pasta I use store bought won ton wrappers. If using the wrappers, place a teaspoon of filling on each wrapper and brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with water. Set another wrapper on top and press to seal, forming stuffed packets.

Makes about 40 raviolis



  1. What a lot of work….[now you know why I cant cook] Karen your instructions are so clear even I
    a no experience person can understand just what to do. you know I read cook books for pleasure so
    I do know good clear instructions. your amazing.

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