Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Introducing: Homemade Pasta Month!

The month of March, along with warmer temperatures, spring rains, and flowers, also bring something exciting to Epicurable-- Pasta month!

I am fairly certain that there isn't a drop of Italian blood anywhere in our family's heritage, but for some reason, we do love our pasta. It can be made quickly for a weeknight meal, prepped ahead of time for dinner parties, or dressed to the nines for a fancy weekend dinner. What is not to love?

Well, ok, maybe not this:

Don't get me wrong, it will do in a pinch, and we certainly have a stock in our cupboard. But there is a much, much, much better way!

Homemade pasta tastes incredible, and requires just two ingredients: flour and eggs. This month, we will be featuring three ways to make homemade pasta -- by hand, with a hand-crank roller, and with a Kitchen-Aid attachment. We are pretty certain that once you try it, you will never go back to the box. 

Click below to find out how to make hand rolled pasta!

Joyce's Hand-made Pasta

Homemade pasta tastes wonderful and its ingredients are simple: just flour and eggs. However, the tricky thing about pasta is getting the perfect amount of moisture.  The basic recipe is 1 egg and a scant 3/4 cup flour (about 1T less). This will make enough pasta for about 1.5 people (as a main dish), so adjust your amount accordingly. We suggest starting with no more than 2 eggs until you get the hang of the technique.

Make a well with your flour in a deep sided mixing bowl and put the egg in the center.With a fork whisk the egg in small circles, gradually working in more flour as you go.

You will not always be able to work all the flour in. This is okay. You don't want dough that is too stiff, as this will make the dough hard to roll. Work in as much flour as you can, while still keeping the dough pliable. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter for 15-20 minutes.

Using a rolling pin, roll out your dough as thinly and evenly as possible.

I have never been able to get it as thin as a pasta roller can. The more you practice, the thinner you can make it. Plus as you gain experience you can roll it out when it is a little wetter, and it will stretch thinner. Making pasta by hand requires practice, but it is fun and inexpensive. And don't worry if it is a little uneven-- it will still taste wonderful and add to the rustic appeal of homemade pasta.

Next, cut pasta into 6-8 inch strips and lay them on top of each other. Pasta that is dry enough will not stick together when you stack it in layers. If it sticks, let the strips dry a little longer, or lightly dust with flour. Cut the stacked strips into 1/4 inch strips.

If your noodles are sticking together, separate them and toss with your hands to dry.

You can cook the pasta at this point, or let it dry on the counter for a few hours. If you wish to store it for longer, you can keep it in freezer containers in your freezer for up to two months.

Fresh pasta will cook in about 3-4 minutes in boiling water. Frozen pasta will take 5-6 minutes.

When your pasta is done, strain the water and top with your favorite complement. This pasta ended up with a delicious Chicken Marsala from Cook's Illustrated.

Watch for more pasta toppings to come this month!

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