Let’s Talk Italian: Making Fresh Pasta at Home

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I want you to try and make pasta…

I know, I know…it’s really hard.
But it’s not…it just takes practice.
I want you guys to go to this site.
Focus on the pasta making section (it’s really quick and will make you want to move to Italy and be Italian).

Now, if that cute little lady can make pasta by hand (which is pretty incredible), then you can give it a shot…I’ll even lend you my pasta machine!!

Here is the recipe I use when I want plain pasta (it’s they way they taught me in Tuscany):

3 eggs
300 g flour
pinch salt

that’s it…now, how hard can it be, right??

This is Jamie Oliver’s Italy book.  I love the pictures and there are some pretty great recipes he gathered on his travels…maybe we can make some of those too?
You can use all purpose flour – especially when you are starting out.  But to get the right mouth feel, this is the flour you want (I bought mine at Grande Cheese).  If you can’t find “00” flour, use bread flour.The jury is out on how to combine flours to make the kind of flour used in Italy. The food forums online and bloggers have ridiculously long explanations…like this:
I bet you have solved the riddle by now, but just in case you have not: in Italy we classify flour by the extraction percentage: so you have wholewheat, then 2, then 1, then 0 and lastly 00, the more refined. This is what you would use for cakes, or pasta, but also fine bread and rolls. However, refining is one thing, proteins quite another, so there can be low gluten 00 and high gluten 00. The latter is what you would use for e.g. panettone and pandoro, that need a long fermentation times, while the former is what you would use for crostata and biscotti. If you want to be more precise, in Europe in general and in Italy in particular the thing to look for are the W and P/L ratios. You should feel free to ask for the details, as any good “mulino” would send you the technical sheet for each of their flours.”I am a foodie, and sometimes this even makes me crazy.  If we want people to get back in the kitchen and cook, let’s not start by making people feel inadequate!
Start with what you have and try to get the right texture…then you can move into the right flours.

Make a well (which means pile the flour on your clean counter – which is my preference – or on a clean, wooden board or in a wide bowl) by piling the flour and then making a hole in the middle.  Break the eggs into the well and sprinkle with salt.
Keeping the well in tact, beat the eggs in the centre and slowly bring in some flour from the sides
You can see it starting to come together…
When it starts to lose it’s watery feel, switch to your hands (the best tool in the kitchen!).  Keep mixing and only incorporate a little flour at a time.
If you have a bench scraper, use that to pick up the pieces of dough stuck to the counter (a spatula will work too).  Incorporate those tiny pieces into your dough.
Now with your brute strength (kidding), pick up the dough and, using the heel of your hand, push it away from you.  Repeat until the dough looks like a baby’s bum…I know…weird but true!
A baby’s bum…nice and soft.
Now, cover it in plastic wrap and let it rest for about 30 minutes (you can also put it in the fridge for a day)
This is my grandmothers pasta machine I inherited…hand crank and all.  Please feel free to use a pasta attachment if you are lucky enough to have one!
Cut the dough into 4 pieces (keeping the ones you are not working on wrapped to make sure they stay soft).  At the widest setting, push the first piece of dough through the machine and crank until it comes out the bottom.  Fold into 3 like this and put it through again…repeat 3 times.
Switch to the next setting (one smaller) and put the dough through twice.  Keep going until you have put it through the smallest setting.
This is what it should look like.
Now, if you are going to make ravioli, you stop here.  We will make that another day.  Attach the linguine maker to the machine and put it through.
Isn’t that beautiful??
Make sure you have plenty of flour so the noodles don’t stick together.  You can put them in neat piles but I like them messy…
…messy piles!  Making sure there is plenty of flour, you can transfer the piles to a cookie sheet and leave them to dry.  When they are hard, you can put them in a paper bag and use them like you would dried pasta.You can drop them in a soup or with your favorite sauce as a quick snack.I can’t wait to hear how you all did!!