Pasta tutorial

Fulfilling my promise to Rocky Mountain High, herewith is a step-by-step post showing the fettucine I made for dinner this past Sunday…

The recipe I use is basically the one that came with my ravioli press (not the one that came with the pasta maker), though as everyone knows, I’m unable to leave well enough alone with recipes, and have modified it to the following:

The ingredients:

  • 3 cups of semolina flour (this is the grainy yellow type of flour – I get mine by the 5-pound bag from Frankferd Farms, but most grocery stores sell at least little bags of it)
  • 3 eggs
  • a glug or so of Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I guess that’s like a tablespoon or 2
  • some water

 

Now the way I was taught in Italy by the cugini was to put the flour right on the table, make a well in it, and add the eggs & oil, but I don’t really have a suitable big wooden kitchen table, so I use a bowl. But I do still mix it by hand…

Here it is after mixing the flour, eggs, and oil, but before adding water – it’s nice coarse crumbs.

Add some water – I start with about 2 tablespoons or so, mix it in, and see how it is – add a little at a time till you can form a nice solid ball that doesn’t break up when you knead it. Once you have a ball, continue to knead it for a few minutes.

At this point – and this is very important, learned from experience – the dough needs to rest for at least 1/2 hour before you continue. Cover the dough with an overturned bowl to keep it from drying out. This is the perfect time to pour yourself a glass of wine and relax for a bit – you were having a nice red wine with your pasta anyway, weren’t you? This day we were featuring our homemade Montepulciano… mmm.

Also, this is a good time to take a peek at the “Sunday sauce” that’s been simmering for the past 2 hours…

At this point, you can put your big pot of salted water on to boil – by the time it boils, you should be just about ready to put the pasta in it.

OK, on to the pasta making…

Set up your pasta maker. Mine is a manual Imperia, which I’ve been using for probably about 10 years. It has a sort of vise-like attachment to hold it on to the edge of the countertop.

Grab a hunk of dough (be sure to re-cover the rest of the dough ball so it doesn’t dry out), form it into a ball, and flatten it somewhat on the countertop.

Set the pasta maker on the thickest roller setting – mine is #1. Start your flattened ball of dough through the rollers, and turn the rollers very slowly. On this first rolling, you’ll probably have to sort of jam it through, and it may come out in pieces, but they’ll be flat pieces, and you can just piece them together and run them through again. Below you can see two different “first rollings” – one went through great, and one not so great, but it really doesn’t matter. But if the dough completely breaks up into small bits, your dough was probably too dry, and you might need to add the tiniest bit of water to make it the right consistency. It’s taken me a while to get the water right when I’m first mixing the dough, and I think it varies depending on the size of the eggs, how precisely the flour was measured, how much is a glug of oil, etc. Eventually you get a feel for what’s right.

First rollingAfter 1st rollingNot so good 1st rolling

 

Now, fold over the flattened dough, whatever it looks like, and run it through again at the thickest setting. Fold again, roll again.

Keep doing this at least 4 times, but as many as it takes to get a reasonably rectangular panel of dough. It should get easier and easier to roll.

Now roll it through once more on the thickest setting, as a single layer, just to make it nice. Then increase the thinness setting by 1 (on my pasta maker that’s #2), and put the dough through as a single layer. Continue to reduce the setting and roll the dough through, until it’s the right thickness for whatever pasta you’re making. My pasta maker has 6 settings, and I take it to #5 for thick noodles, or #6 for thin noodles or ravioli.

You should end up with a nice looong sheet of pasta dough! You can cut it in half if you feel your noodles will be too long. I don’t, usually.

Cutter
Cutting

Now you’re ready to cut the pasta… on my machine, that means moving the crank handle from the roller section to the cutter section. Choose the most square end of your pasta sheet, and gently begin to feed it through the blades, while turning the handle slowly till it catches the dough. This is a good time to have a helper 🙂

You’ll want to sort of catch the cut noodles in your other hand as they come through the back of the machine. I stick my hand underneath so the noodles kind of drape over my hand, and then when they’re all through, I transfer the noodles hanging over my hand onto one of the sticks of my pasta dryer.

 

If you don’t have a drying rack, you can take the noodles and sort of stir them around in some semolina flour so they don’t stick to each other, and form them into a little nest, one nest per batch of noodles.

Repeat this process till your whole dough ball is used up. I should have taken another photo, but I think I ended up with 5 batches hanging on my rack.

To cook the fresh pasta, drop it into the rapidly boiling salted water, and cook it till it turns nice and white, and tests to the done-ness you like your pasta. It depends a lot on the thickness of your noodles, so you really have to keep checking, but I think after coming back to a boil, it takes about 5 minutes or so.

I usually get enough pasta for 2 dinners for 4 people from this recipe. On this day, though, we had friends over, and between the 6 of us we ate all the pasta and most of the sauce, because it was just so darn good!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and that you’re encouraged to try it yourself – it’s not really so hard, and the results are well worth it.

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3 thoughts on “Pasta tutorial

  1. Thanks for the pasta tutorial. Excellent directions. Now I may have the courage to actually try it! I like the idea of using a bowl instead of the bread board. My bread board, 18 x 24 inches, has developed 1/8 inch gaps. It consists of three pieces of wood that were for many years right beside each other. Maybe it is the dry climate I have been living in for the past few years.

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