Sunday, October 16, 2011

Other Fine Italian Machinery (Homemade Pasta)

Remember when I bought my Ducati?  I never got around to telling you, but that wasn’t the only fine (and expensive!) Italian luxury item I acquired in August of 2010*.

Pasta Equipment
Pasta guitar, garganelli comb, and corzetti stamp

The fresh pasta of northern Italy is made with white flour and eggs.  Nothing more, nothing less.  And if you use eggs from pastured chickens (chickens that live a normal chicken life and eat a normal chicken diet, unlike those who lay the eggs you find in the grocery store), your pasta will have an especially lovely golden color to it.

For each (small Italian sized) serving, mix together 1 egg and 1/2 cup flour.  Forget all that nonsense about putting the flour in a heap on a big wooden counter top, making a well in the center, breaking the eggs in the well etc., etc.  Do that, and I guarantee the eggs will escape from your flour volcano caldera and make a fine mess.  Just mix it in a bowl, like you’d do anything else, okay?  Hold back a bit of the flour at first, and add that remaining portion a bit at a time as you finish your mixing until you judge the dough to be soft, but not sticky.  Now you must knead.  And knead.  And knead.  For eight minutes, according to the irrefutable Marcella Hazan, whose recipe I adapt here.  Until the dough is satiny, silky, deliciously smooth.  Dust the ball with flour, wrap it in plastic wrap, and let it rest a bit while you wash the bowl, the counter and prepare your pasta rolling surface and equipment.

Next, pick your pasta dough flattening weapon of choice.  If you own a hand cranked pasta machine by all means, use it.  Or, if you lost your hand cranked pasta machine in your divorce, and/or you want to make pasta the traditional way and/or you don’t have any money to buy a hand cranked pasta machine (especially after shelling out the big bucks your funky pasta shaping toys), get thee to Home Depot and have them cut you a 32” by 1 1/2” diameter wooden dowel.  That shall be your pasta rolling pin.  But don’t use it to roll the dough.  Use it to stretch the dough.  Like this: (excepting the awful music, which would most certainly ruin the pasta).

This is my method, and although I don’t take the trouble to make my circle of dough so perfectly round, I do it quickly enough to finish the job before the dough dries out (no small task here in the desert), which is all you need to get the job done.  It’s really not terribly difficult, and once you get the hang of it, I think it’s actually quicker than the hand cranked machine.  And a bit better, too, as it works more texture into the pasta, which is a good thing.  For the record, I think this video is from a restaurant is in Japan (!!).  They have a whole slew of pasta making videos that fascinate the kitchen nerd in me.  The thickness of your sheets will vary in according to your personal taste, skill, and shape of pasta you are making.  Aim for sheets as thin as, you know… pasta!

Finally, as delightfully fun as working play-doh, but (for those of you who ate your play-doh as a child) infinitely tastier, make your pasta shapes!**

Corzetti Stampati
Corzetti stampati - I served them with pesto.

Garganelli - Their classic pairing is the the three P's. Peas, Peppers and Prosciutto.  In a cream sauce.  Which clings delightfully to those ridges supplied by the garganelli "comb."

Maccheroni alla chitarra
Roll your pasta sheets over the wires of the "guitar..." 

Spaghetti alla chitarra
... and automagically, you have the square cross section of  Maccheroni alla chitarra!  Yum yum with a simple sauce of meat drippings, rosemary and garlic.

After all that creative manipulation, do pay attention when you cook your fresh pasta.  It cooks much more quickly than dried. Your sauce of choice*** should be completed before you ever put the pasta in the pot.  Walk away from the pot at your own risk.

Edit:  Wouldn't you know it?  Oct 16 was "Blog Action Day," and the 2011 topic was food.  Looks like I unknowingly complied!

* I got (and photographed) my Rosle food mill around the same time.  It was quite the spending spree.
** No special gadgets needed to make ravioli, farfalle (bow ties), most ribbons (tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine, etc.) cavatelli, orecchiette, tortellini,  and countless other pasta types.
***Which sauce with which shape?  Oy, that’s a long discussion.  Ask Marcella.  Or do what feels right.


Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

Thanks Paula. Now I know what my next obsession will be!

Anonymous said...

Well, these rolled noodles look pretty good!
Wholesome and healthy. My Mom used to make them and then kill the chicken, chopped the chicken's head off with an ax, run boiling water over it to pull the feathers and then clean out the innards.
And then cooked the birdie in a delicious broth with those homemade noodles!!!!!!

Paula said...

Homemade chicken broth is the best, isn't it?

Paula said...

Hey, look! I can now reply to posts directly! Blogspot changed this when I wasn't looking, I guess. I've taken on my pasta obsession with new vigor this week - now orecchiette, trofiette, busiati... Can't. Stop. Making (and eating). Pasta!