06 September 2009

born with a third hand

Now that I have been talking about home-made pasta not once, but twice, I think maybe it's time I add the recipe here for sake of completeness.

Making pasta yourself is terribly simple, it doesn't call for any special skill nor ingredients. What it does call for, though, is a bit of effort, some equipment and ideally a helping hand. Making pasta on your own isn't only a bore, it's also quite impossible unless you're one of the very few people born with a third hand.

But it makes quite a difference to store-bought pasta, and most of the times helps turning a good dish into a great one. And that's definitely worth the little extra effort, in my eyes at least.

simple pasta with eggs
(recipe given per person, scale accordingly)

100g bread baking flour
1 medium egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)

In a small bowl, mix the salt with the eggs until dissolved.
If you mix it all together like that, you'll end up with grains of salt in the rather dry dough, which will draw water during the rest, making the dough harder to get smooth.

Mix all ingredients and knead until all flour has been absorbed.
The oil is optional, but will make the dough less sticky and helps against the dough drying out. Definitely recommended when you do not plan to dry and keep your pasta on stock.
If the dough is sticky despite everything, add some more flour.

Wrap in clingwrap and chill for about half an hour.
The dough will dry out rather quickly, so if you insist on a box for the dough instead of some plastic, find one that fits with as little air around the dough as possible.

Cut the dough into pieces about the size of a small fist. Cover your kitchen table with tea towels or your proofing linnen and get a broomstick handy.

Using a pasta mill like the one you can see in the picture below, run the dough though on the largest setting. Fold in half and repeat until the dough comes out as a smooth sheet.

Set the sheet aside onto the towels and repeat with the remaining dough.

Depening on the size of the pasta you want to cut, roll out the sheets in increasingly thinner settings, this time without folding them in half.
Latest here you'll need a third hand, as cranking the handle, feeding the dough into the mill and getting it out again will be just one simultaneous task too many for one person alone.

Once the individual sheet is as thin as you want it, cut into the pasta of your choice.
I almost invariably make tagliatelle, as they are still fine enough to catch a lot of sauce and yet sturdy enough to hide any mistakes or sloppy handling.

Once cut, hang the pasta over the broomstick as shown - this way they will start drying and will be less prone to sticking to each other.

To cook, set up a big pot with salted water, and use more salt than you think you need. Boil for four to five minutes only, depending on the thickness of your pasta.

Serve with a little bit of butter and / or anything you can come up with.

Instead of making tagliatelle, I sometimes make ravioli - filling the sheets in idividual parcels is pretty straight forward, and ricotta and store-bought creamed spinach in equal proportions make a great, easy filling.


Danielle said...

Oh how I wish I had a pasta mill!

Reuben Morningchilde said...

Well, you CAN theoretically make them by hand - if you have a lot of time and really strong arms (ie like my grandmother, actually...).

But these pasta mills ship from amazon for 25$ upwards already. And there's no need to buy a more expensive one unless you already know you'll be going to use it every other day. So it shouldn't be that much of an investment.