Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fresh Pasta

From Beard on Pasta by James Beard

I'm posting this recipe today mostly for myself. As I've said before, the reason I started this blog was so I can get my hands on my recipes, and this is one that's not in my head, and I have actually wished I had it on occasion, so it's time to put it here.

It is basically from Beard on Pasta by James Beard, but the first time I made it was with Beverly Dana when she invited me to her house in Atlanta to make pasta. I make it in a Cuisinart (which to me is synonymous with food processor) and roll it out on rollers that I attach to my KitchenAid mixer, which makes it really easy.

Michael Ruhlman did a post on making pasta by hand without using a food processor.  You might want to check it out.

Fresh pasta is very different from dry pasta, and it isn't automatically better for every recipe. A rule of thumb is that dried pasta works well with heavy sauces, and fresh works well with light sauces. It's like the wand choosing the wizard rather than the wizard choosing the wand. The sauce dictates the pasta. Having said that, I must confess that with the exception of filled (like ravioli and tortellini) pasta and lasagna, I generally am happy with excellent quality Italian dried pasta. I find it really does make a difference to use artisanal pasta from Italy, which has been made using bronze cutting die, and usually use Pasta Setaro or Rustichella D'Abruzzo pasta. I recently tried Cav. Guiseppe Cocco penne rigate, for Pasta alla Carbonara, and it was delicious (the pasta and the recipe).

These instructions are specifically for using a food processor. James Beard has instructions for making it by hand and making it using an electric mixer, so if you want to, check out the book to see all the different methods.

Fresh Pasta
Adapted from Beard on Pasta by James Beard

These instructions are specifically for using a food processor.

1-1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
Pinch of salt
2 whole large eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon oil

Add the flour and salt to the bowl of your food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process to blend, then add the eggs and oil through the feed tube. Continue to process until the dough begins to form a ball. If the dough is too sticky, add a tablespoon or two of flour. If it's too dry, add a tiny, tiny amount of water. Process until it forms a ball, but don't keep processing once that happens.

Turn the dough from the food processor out onto a floured board. Dust your hands with flour, and knead by hand for about 5 minutes. Make a ball and then slightly flatten it. Wrap it in plastic wrap or place it in a Ziplock bag, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes - an hour is infinitely better (and you can actually refrigerate it overnight; just let it get to room temperature again before continuing with the recipe to the rolling step).

Cut the dough into four equal pieces.  I then roll the pieces of dough through a pasta roller attachment that fits on my KitchenAid Stand Mixer, but I do NOT mean an extrusion attachment, which pushes the dough through holes. I mean an attachment with rolling cylinders that look like a washing machine wringer, if you know what that is.  There are hand-cranked machines that do this, such as the Marcato Atlas, which have to be temporarily secured to your counter or to a cutting board to keep them stable.

NEVER clean the cylinders with water.  I use a pastry brush held in one hand to clean them off as I turn the cylinder with the other hand

I start with the rolling cylinders at the widest setting and roll the piece of dough through once or twice. Then I lightly dust the length of now-flattened dough with flour using a feather brush, and keep going down a setting each time, putting it through the narrower and narrower settings one time for each setting until it's as thin as I want it.

I keep the sheets of pasta under kitchen towels as I go along.

When all the pasta has been rolled through, it's ready to use. You cut it into whatever shape you want or use it in sheets for lasagna or ravioli. Note that fresh pasta cooks almost instantly so be careful when you cook it.

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1 comment:

  1. I just got a copy of a James Beard "entertaining" book but I haven't had a chance to make anything from it yet. I do love making my own pasta though. I don't have a KitchenAid mixer (someday...) but I do have an italian made hand-crank pasta maker. I love it!


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