Lessons in produzione la pasta fresca
February 11, 2012 3 Comments
Italian is not my forte, as you might have guessed. Spanish, Basic French, Reading-level Russian – sure. Even some Latin. It seems, though with Italian – I just can’t get the pronunciation down. It seems there are a ton of different ways to pronounce words in Italian. Kind of like how there are exactly a bajillion pasta recipes out there. White/wheat/semolina flour, eggs, egg whites, water, milk… there are a million variations on the bajillion recipes. Approximately.
I had avoided making pasta for a while. I have no Italian heritage whatsoever – as much as I long for an Italian grandmother to break out her ancient family pasta recipe and for for us to spend a weekend making it… not going to happen. Boxed pasta will always be a cheap substitute for the real thing. But as boxed pasta is cheap – so is flour, so what did I have to lose? After an Italian grandmother-taught CRFM Homesteading class and an Atlas machine gifted for Christmas, there were no excuses standing in the way.
There is no secret SK-approved pasta recipe here, folks. In the spirit of Grow It, Cook It, Can It’s January Resolution – go try it out and report back with what works for you. I do have a few suggestions, though.
1. 100% semolina pasta is a) unkneadable and b) likely inedible. You really should look at a recipe before wasting a ton of flour. Ahem.
2. Fresh eggs – no exceptions. Friends with fresher than fresh eggs – even better. Let them come to room temp before using. With local-ish flour and local eggs – you’ve pretty much got yourself a Dark Days meal ready to go. As far as ratios – Sean of Punk Domestics suggested 1 whole egg per 100g flour. Peter at A Cook Blog uses only yolks. I found a happy medium in Smitten Kitchen’s 6 egg yolks to 1 whole egg ratio. Save the whites for meringue.
3. Why is it that no pasta recipes suggest how long to knead? I mean, you really can’t knead too much. If you’re tired, of course use the dough hook on your stand mixer. I found the kneading took about 10 minutes of work – it really does change texture and elasticity once ready. Pay attention and you can’t miss it.
4. Folding the sheet of pasta over on itself as you roll it through the machine is super important – it makes the sheet edges neater and helps make the sheet overall more even. Also helpful for fixing your own screwups.
5. When making ravioli, don’t overfill. Don’t underfill either – err on the side of slightly too little.
6. Again, for ravioli – I didn’t find I needed an eggwash to seal the pasta together. Just make sure when you boil the ravs the water is at a simmer and keep an eye on it, and it should be fine.
7. A ravioli mold is the greatest thing ever. You’ll never go back to a stamp.
8. Make sure your ravioli filling is dry ish- if you use frozen roasted tomatoes and basil there will be a lot of extra water, that makes your pasta wet. Its delicious, but hard to eat.
All in all, homemade pasta is fairly easy once you get the hang of it – this is something I could totally see myself whipping up for dinner with a glass of wine – homemade cacio e pepe here I come.