My wife spent the spring and summer on the east coast last year, taking courses in Ukrainian at Columbia and Harvard. While she was away I developed a serious Iron Chef habit. When the time for my first visit to New York arrived, I was eager to eat at Mario Batali's Babbo. We were lucky enough to get a reservation without much notice. The stand-out dish for me was the Beef Cheek and Squab Liver ravioli with Black Truffle.
Turns out I am not the only one impressed by the dish. An article showed up in the New York Times Magazine that described Babbo as one of the harder reservations to land, and those very same ravioli as one of the must eat meals in NYC - not bad for what Mario Batali describes as "a delivery system for leftovers." The article goes on to describe how you can fake the dish, substituting this for that, that kind of thing.
In general, I am opposed to faking it. One of the implied messages of this website is that you don't have to substitute ingredients if you know where to get the real thing. This past weekend though, the fates conspired against me. With no beef cheeks or squab liver to be had, I improvised. Chuck roast for beef cheeks, chicken liver for squab, and fennel pollen for truffles.
To be sure this dish requires a certain time commitment. Braising the chuck roast took nearly 4 hours, making the ravioli pasta took another hour or so. At each stage of the process I thought,"In most kitchens, this would be enough". When the ravioli reached the table though, it was all worth it. Rave reviews abounding.