This turned out to be a filling success, but somewhat of a pasta fail. I recently made pasta that turned out great and was very easy to work with, but that was made using all-purpose flour. My sister and I decided to get together today and play with our new pasta makers, and because the reference materials we initially referred to recommended semolina flour, we decided to give that a try. As it turned out, neither of us was completely satisfied. I was using a hand-crank pasta maker and a stand mixer, with a 1:1 ration of AP flour to semolina flour. She was using an electric pasta maker, a food processor, and for one of her batches, a ratio of 1c flour to 1/2 c semolina flour. We both had the same problem with needing to increase the liquid repeatedly, and both had a difficult time passing the dough through our machines. Even at the finest setting, it still somehow turned out too thick.
Having said all that, the basic recipe we followed - and the same recipe we have successfully used before with AP flour - is Tyler Florence's Pasta Dough for Ravioli. The only differences were that we did not use a fourth egg to seal the ravioli (just brushed the pasta with water), and did not dust them with cornmeal - we just staged them on waxed or parchment paper until ready to boil.
I did not use up all of my filling, so I may whip up another batch of pasta tomorrow. I'm thinking rather than bothering with the ravioli, I'll cut out squares, boil them, then top with filling and roll into tubes, as we previously did with this dish ...
The filling contains chicken, ham, and Swiss cheese like a traditional Cordon Bleu. In place of breading and frying, I opted to brown some bread crumbs to sprinkle over the top as a garnish. That worked out very nicely. You can certainly start with either a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken or any leftover chicken you may have, but because I didn't have any, I opted to poach my chicken for this dish.
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (abt 3 c cooked/shredded)
veggies/herbs for poaching (I used garlic, celery, shallot, carrot, scallion, and thyme)
32 oz chicken broth
8 oz Black Forest ham
1 shallot (additional if using in poaching liquid)
6 T butter
6 T flour
1 1/2 c milk
1 c chicken broth (reserved poaching liquid)
7 oz Swiss cheese (I used sliced baby Swiss)
1 T fresh thyme leaves
2 t Dijon mustard
Start by tossing whatever veggies/herbs you want to poach your chicken with into a stock pot. Add the chicken and cover with the broth. You may need to add some additional broth or water to cover. When it comes to the chicken, if I'm baking a recipe, which usually involves some sort or filling or coating, I'll clean it beforehand. For poaching, since it's coming out "naked" like it went in, I find it easier to trim once it comes out.
Bring the pot just to a boil, then reduce to barely a simmer. Season with a little salt and pepper and let cook for about a half hour. Turn off the heat and let stay in the pot until cooked through. You'll be shredding it anyhow, so if you question whether it's done, feel free to cut into it to check.
Remove the chicken from the pot and cut it into large chunks (trimming if necessary), then transfer to a mixer or food processor to shred. What I find works best is the plastic blade in a food processor. Strain the broth, saving the carrots for your pooch if you have one and discarding the other veggies/herbs. You will be using some of your broth in the filling. The rest can be stored in the fridge for a few days or frozen for another occasion.
I opted to use Black Forest Ham in my filling rather than another ham or even prosciuto or pancetta. The package I purchased was of slices, and I was afraid that might not work well for shredding like the chicken, so I diced it separately, then threw it in the food processor with the chicken, minced shallot, and thyme and gave it another whirl.
Set that aside for the moment to work on your cheese sauce. Finely dice or shred the cheese to make it easier to melt - set aside. Whisk together the butter and flour over medium heat for several minutes to create a roux. When you can drag the whisk along the bottom of the pot and the trail doesn't immediately fill back in, slowly whisk in the 1c reserved broth and the milk.
Whisk frequently to prevent the bottom from scorching. Once the mixture begins to thicken, add the Dijon, then the Swiss cheese, a little at a time, until melted and smooth.
At this point, it should be roughly the consistency of a hot pudding. Remove from heat, and incorporate a cup to a cup and a half into the chicken mixture. That will provide additional flavor for your filling, as well as acting as a binder.
Since I anticipated also making Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs when I got together with my sister, I prepped this filling the night before, stopping at this point.
After I made the pasta, I filled and staged all of my Raviolis on waxed paper until ready to boil and turned my attention back to the remaining cheese sauce. I re-heated the mixture, thinning it with a little milk. After taste-testing, I opted to increase the Dijon and throw in a little grated Parmesan, adjusting the salt and pepper to account for the additional milk.
For the garnish, between the Spaghetti Sauce, Meatballs, three different pastas, three different fillings, and three different sauces going on in the kitchen, rather than pull out yet another pan, I sprinkled a handful of fresh breadcrumbs (I always keep a stash of odds and ends ground up in the freezer) and a pinch of dry seasoned breadcrumbs on a piece of foil, sprayed it with butter-flavored PAM and threw it in the oven since the oven was still hot from just having broiled some of the meatballs. I had intended to toss the crumbs in a little pan with some butter to toast them - whatever is easiest for you is fine.
NOTE: If, for some reason, you decide to prep your filling the day before like I did, just be sure to re-heat the cheese sauce before you thin it with milk (or broth). It will loosen up again when re-heated, so you don't want to add liquid too soon and end up with it being very thin. If that does happen, you can add more Parmesan to thicken it up some. I used a little for kick but didn't want to veer to far from the traditional Cordon Bleu flavors by adding too much Parm or Dijon.
Enjoy! And if you've got any tips for making pasta with semolina flour, please let us know. I'm not giving up on it, but I'll probably try something else next time, or stick with the AP flour. The other batch my sister made was a whole wheat roasted red pepper pasta. I'm not normally a fan of whole wheat pasta, but it worked out great with the filling and sauce she made from some leftover ribs.
Oops! I forgot to take a picture of her other dish for her.