Friday, August 3, 2012

How to make Fresh Pasta

Farm fresh eggs have a bright orange yolk and delightfully rich taste.  The breed of the hen, the health of the chicken, the diet, the environment and especially the happiness level of the bird all influence the taste and texture of the egg.  No flat, single egg taste here, but instead, undertones and overtones in the flavour of the egg tell the hen's story with every bite.  That's what farm fresh eggs means to me - and this is coming from someone who doesn't like eggs all that much.

It's been several years since I made pasta from scratch.  How did I managed to not make fresh pasta when I have such delightful eggs?  Why did I wait so long?

If you have one of those machines, pasta making (in small batches) can be the work of minutes.  It takes longer to set up the equipment than it does for me to actually make the pasta.  For some reason, cleaning up this time was way easier than I remember it .  

I use the recipe from The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia which is pretty standard.  The book goes into more detail than I do here, but I haven't seen it published for a few years, and it can be quite costly to get your hands on.  So if you see a copy of this book, snatch it up quick.  It is AMAZING.

Fresh Pasta

Makes enough for 2 to 4 people.

2 eggs
1 cup flour plus more for dusting
pinch of salt

  • Combine flour and salt, make a well for the eggs.  Add egg and mix until a stiff dough forms.  Break the dough into two or three pieces.  We will work with one piece at a time, repeat for the other sections of dough.
  • With your pasta maker on the thickest setting, pass the dough through the rollers.  Dust with flour if it becomes sticky.  Fold the dough in three, then pass through the rollers again.  Do this four or more times until the dough starts to go stiff.
  • Change the setting on the pasta maker to be one thinner.  Pass the dough through the rollers.  Then make it one setting thinner again, pass the dough through the rollers... repeat until the sheet of pasta is thin enough.  I usually stop at setting 7 of 9, but if I want really fine pasta, I'll go thinner.
  • Dust lightly with flour and leave that section to rest while you do the same with the other sections.
  • Pass the pasta through your pasta cutter rollers.  Lightly dust the pasta with flour if sticky then either hang the pasta on a pasta hanger or make little single portion birds nests like I did.
  • You want to leave the pasta to dry at least 15 minutes before using.  

If you dry the pasta completely you can put it in an air tight container and keep for up to two months in a cool dark place (cupboard).  Or you can keep it for two or three days in the fridge as is before using.  Just make sure you 'package' them in single serving sections otherwise it's a real challenge to seporate later on.

To cook the pasta, make certain you are absolutely ready for it with the sauce and plates and everything!  Bring the water to a full rolling boil and put the pasta in all at once.  Stir around so it doesn't stick together and keep a very close eye on it.  Fresh pasta can take as little as 15 seconds to cook, but usually takes about a minute at full boil.  

Note: if you pasta maker starts squeaking, put a few drops of olive (or other food safe oil) in the joints.  

Fresh pasta tastes so decadent compared to dry store bought pasta, that I often wonder at them being called the same thing.

Happy Friday

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