I’d love to reproduce the scrumptious ravioli with pork, tomato and fennel sauce I enjoyed so much in Modica.
It’s a beautiful little place, Modica, although you would need sturdier legs than mine to go about your daily business. You need a strong heart as well. About 15km out of Ragusa, over the 300m-high Guerrieri bridge, you can see Modica deep down below at the bottom of the gorge. For me, deep ravines like this are terrifying sights but if you can manage heights without fainting, the journey is exciting and you’ll be rewarded when you arrive in this stunning and splendid town. I just kept my eyes closed until the bus stopped.
For pure rococo splendour, you can’t beat the Chiesa di San Giorgio in Modica Alta. Designed by Gagliardi, the great architect from Siracusa, it’s perched on a majestic 250-step staircase.
In Modica Bassa is the Cattedrale di San Pietro, another stunner with a rippling staircase designed for mountaineers but lined, thankfully, with life-sized statues of the Apostles to guard you on your climb.
After these climbs, a hearty dish of Ravioli con sugo di maiale alla Modicana is exactly what you need to recover.
You can buy ravioli already prepared, or make your own. When I’m not in a raging hurry (and this recipe isn’t for anyone in any sort of hurry – the concept of ‘fast food’ hasn’t really infiltrated Sicily), I make my own ravioli. It’s easy enough.
I get pork and fennel sausages from Queen Victoria Market but they’re available just about anywhere.
- For the Ravioli
- 400gr plain flour
- 4 eggs
- 400gr fresh ricotta cheese
- a small bunch of marjoram, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- For the Pork and Tomato sauce
- 100gr pork chopped into small pieces
- 200gr pork and fennel sausages
- 300gr tomato extract
- 1 medium onion
- 1 glass red wine
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Chop the onion and fry gently in a large pan till it's nice and soft
- Add the pork and the sausage, brown these and add the red wine.
- When the alcohol is burned off, add the tomato extract and a glass or two of warm water. Mix well, cover and leave to cook for about 3 hours on a low heat. Check occasionally and add water if necessary, your sauce should be quite thick.
- To make the ravioli, first make a well of flour and break the eggs into the middle. Season with a little salt and pepper and then start mixing until you have a homogeneous, pliable dough.
- Work it well, then wrap in plastic film and pop it in the fridge for about an hour.
- While this is in the fridge, mix the ricotta with a little chopped marjoram
- Take out the dough, lay on a floured surface and start rolling out in a rectangular shape, until it's a few mm thick.Then, on half of the dough, place spoonfuls of the ricotta mix, leaving a couple of centimetres between each.
- Now pick up the other half of the pasta and gently drape on top of the part with the ricotta mix. Press around the mix, to get out any air and make sure the two layers of pasta connect well. When you're happy with this, take a pasta cutter and cut the pasta into individual ravioli. Dust with flour so they don't stick.
- When the sauce is ready, cook the ravioli by dropping them into a pan of boiling, lightly-salted water. When they float to the top (probably after a minute or two) they're ready. Carefully drain and put into pasta bowls.
- Now add a piece of sausage and a spoonful or two of the thick tomato-pork sauce.
- Sprinkle with a little dry tasty style cheese
Some images of the lovely little city of Modica, including the view from the bedroom window in my appartamento in Vico Muccio.