Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Homemade Fresh Pasta

I believe that the best foods are usually the most simple: sun-ripened strawberries eaten where they grow with the juice dripping off your chin; fresh caught salmon grilled over an open fire; lamb burgers made with your own dead-ripe garden tomatoes and farm-raised ground lamb; and fresh homemade pasta made with the simplest of ingredients -OK, and a bit of time. When I make homemade pasta, so easy and of such simple ingredients, I can't help asking myself, "Why don't I do this more often?" Of course, time (or lack of) is the answer. When I do dedicate a few hours to making fresh pasta, I and those who eat with me are never disappointed -and it is time definitely well spent.

Homemade Fresh Pasta
3 c. flour
3 eggs
3/4 t. salt
1/2 c. water (more or less)

I knead the dough well, resisting the temptation to add too much water. A STIFF dough is necessary for the proper texture for the pasta sheets. After kneading, the dough can be rolled out with a rolling pin, or run through a pasta machine.

I divide the dough into quarters, and starting with the lowest setting I run the dough through the rollers multiple times to knead it even more. I try and remember to maintain a light, consistent flouring of the sheets to keep the dough from sticking to the table and itself. After several passes, I then increase the machine's setting one notch at a time, making thinner and thinner sheets, ending at the 6 or 7 setting.

The thin sheets of pasta can be folded over a filling, cut by hand, or run through the pasta machine cutting blades, as I did here to make fettuccine.

Lightly flouring the pasta sheets before cutting and then hanging them to dry a bit helps so it won't clump together during cooking. I toss the cooked pasta well with olive oil to ensure that the strands will stay separate when served. The fresh pasta cooks quickly, 3-4 minutes, and I taste test to decide when its done.

The pasta was fantastic topped with this bit-of-this-bit-of-that rabbit ragu I made, but any sauce -Bolognese, Carbonara, Alfredo, or a simple tomato -would be delicious. And of course, homemade fresh pasta is so amazingly good when tossed with minced garlic lightly browned in olive oil and then topped with a bit of grated Parmesan. Simple, but one of the best foods you'll ever eat.

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