Sunday, June 12, 2011
I started making my own pasta last May, when Steve was ever so thoughtful and bought me a nice rolling machine for my birthday.
It took some effort the first time, the usual getting the hang of something new and all. After I did it once, though, I started finding a rhythm with it and then I wondered why I hadn't bought a roller sooner.
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup semolina flour
(this can be easily doubled, tripled, etc.)
Mix the all purpose flour and 1/2 cup of semolina flour together in a small bowl, leaving 1/4 cup semolina aside. Pour the mound of flour out onto a large cutting board (or counter) and make a well in the center. Break the eggs inside the well.
Take a small fork and whisk the eggs in the center, slowly pulling little bits of the wall of flour into the well as you go, until a batter starts to form. When it becomes too thick to keep using a fork, gather the rest of the flour in with your hands and knead it into a dough. Add more of the reserved semolina if it seems too sticky. If it seems dry, if bits of dough are scattered on the board, don't worry. As you knead, these bits should be able to be "picked up" by the ball of dough. If not, that's okay, too.
Knead until it becomes relatively smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, then let it rest under a bowl for at least 30 minutes. If you're making the dough ahead of time, you can cover it lightly with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it. Just bring it back to room temperature first.
Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Lightly flour the first piece, then roll it out a bit with a rolling pin, just until you're able to fit it into the widest setting on your roller.
Roll it through on the widest number, then turn it down one notch and roll it through again.
Continue passing the dough through, once per roller number setting, until it is fairly thin, but not on the verge of tearing.
My machine goes from 6 to 1 and I have never used the "1" setting since "2" seems to get it right where I want it.
Now you have options. You can do as I do most often and make tagliatelle. Lightly flour the dough sheet and fold it in half, then in half again.
Slice into about 1/2-inch strips with a large knife. Try not to press down on the dough with your other hand while doing this or the dough will resist and stick when you try to unfold it.
Now "shake" the dough out until it unfolds. You'll see what I mean if you grab it and flop it around... the best way I can describe this is imagine you were massaging or shampooing with your fingers, but just kind of grab and shake the noodles out with that motion. You may need to sprinkle the dough with flour to assist in the process.
Transfer the pasta to another lightly floured board or a baking sheet while you finish working with the rest of the dough. Small piles are best; otherwise, the noodles may stick together as they sit.
Repeat with remaining three pieces of dough. Voila. Piles of tagliatelle.
Or! Or, if you have an attachment for thin pastas, you can make spaghetti or linguini. Same process as the tagliatelle, except after rolling the sheets through the machine on the thinnest setting that you want, you simply run it through the attachment in its final pass.
And voila. Spaghetti.
There are other options, too - ravioli, bowties, tortellini, on and on. There are a lot of shapes I haven't tried yet, but I will.
To cook, bring a large pot of generously salted water to boil. Cook the noodles for just a couple of minutes, drain and add to pan with sauce to combine.
Note that if there is a visible white layer of flour on your waiting noodles, you may want to shake them out one more time before putting them in the water or else you could end up with goopy noodles. A little flour is okay, though. Mine is usually a bit dusted with it and I've never had problems.
Tagliatelle with ragu Bolognese:
Spaghetti with sausage and marinara, served with braided semolina bread:
Two main things here:
1. I go half and half with the flour, rather than use only all purpose. This isn't necessary, and AP works fine, but since I have semolina easily at my disposal, I use it. We had it with all AP the first time and we prefer the chew of the 50/50 blend.
2. A lot of fresh pasta tutorials tell you to flour the pasta sheets each time you pass it through the machine so it doesn't stick. I won't do that these days (thanks, Mario Batali!) because it adds too much flour to the dough and then, suddenly, you've changed the final texture. If you've made a good dough and you flour it in the beginning before the first pass, this really should be enough during the rolling phase.
Above all, have fun! Fresh pasta is a beautiful thing, but not a difficult thing, not at all. Don't be shy of it. The first time I did it, my "well" collapsed and I had egg running all over my board as I scrambled to gather it back with the flour... and I laughed and laughed the whole time. Sure, it can be a bit messy, so make it a Saturday afternoon project. Make it leisurely. Just MAKE IT. If you have the equipment (or are considering purchasing it) and you have the inclination, then make it. To say it's worth it is a huge understatement.