I thought it might be interesting to write a post about one of our many failed attempts at making a dish that didn't go very well. It wasn't an unmitigated disaster, but it was definitely an object lesson in the importance of making sure that your abilities match your ambition.
I had bought some duck eggs from the farmer's market, and decided to use them to make pasta. After some discussion, Becky and I decided that a duck ravioli would be a good use of the richer-than-usual pasta that we were going to make. After doing a few searches for duck ravioli recipes, I felt that I had the gist of it, and decided to go for it, combining ingredients and techniques from a few different recipes into something that I could reasonably call my own.
The idea was to make some large ravioli with a filling of braised duck, along with trumpet mushrooms and a little bit of pork.
So far, so good
After searing the duck, I braised it for a few hours in chicken stock, a little bit of orange juice, and some fresh herbs.
After a few hours of braising, the duck was tender enough to easily separate from the bone. I set it aside to cool, along with the braising liquid, and in the same pan sauteed some trumpet mushrooms, onions, garlic, and little bit of ground pork.
The idea was to puree all of this stuff together in a food processor, turning it into a mixture that could be be manipulated in small quantities to use as a filling, and mixing in a duck egg to ensure that it all holds together.
Now doesn't that look appetizing?
That also worked reasonably well. And the pasta dough I made (from a pretty generic recipe I found online) also came together nicely. Things were looking pretty good at this point. We even had the artsy-fartsy photos ready to go.
So, what went wrong? A few things. First of all, we didn't have a pasta maker, and tried to roll out the first batch of dough by hand. It became very clear, very quickly, that this wasn't going to work. By the time this realization set in, it was getting late, so we decided to call it a night and start over the next day, which we figured wouldn't be too hard since the filling and pasta dough were already made.
The next day, we bought a pasta maker, and rolled out the dough properly.
Things didn't exactly go perfectly from there. I overworked the dough, so it turned out tough. The ravioli were too big, with too much dough for the amount of filling.
After cooking the ravioli, and sauteeing them in a little bit of butter, garlic, and sage, they tasted decent enough, though a few of them broke open while cooking, and ended up full of water.
Would I try making ravioli again? Of course, and there will probably be a real recipe for it on this blog sooner or later.
When it comes to cooking, or anything you're passionate about, you can't be afraid to fail. In fact, letting a fear of failure dictate your actions pretty much guarantees failure. Just go in knowing that not everything will work, and chalk up the failures as a learning experience.