Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Homemade Pasta

I've always wanted to make homemade pasta.  Let me rephrase that: I've always wanted to make homemade everything.  However, I always thought you had to have a fancy KitchenAid attachment to make pasta.  I have no idea why I thought this, since people have been making pasta since, oh I don't know, like forever, and KitchenAid's have only been around since the 1930's.  So, recently, I decided to give it a try.  Sans KitchenAid pasta attachment.  Now, I'll be honest, I can be pretty crafty in the kitchen (wow, I'm so modest).  But I am a complete disaster with a rolling pin.  We just don't get along.  So, I'm not sure what I was thinking when I thought it would be a good idea to make homemade fettucini, but I went full steam ahead anyway.

What I'm showing you here is my third pasta attempt.  On my first attempt, what was supposed to be a serving for four turned out to be a serving for one.  My pasta was way too thick, both in the rolling aspect and in the slicing.  Did that stop me from eating every single noodle? Of course not, don't be ridiculous.  They were more like dumplings than noodles and they were awesome.  My second attempt was amazing.  The dough was super thin, I did a great job slicing, and they just looked great.  And tasted great, which is much more important in my opinion.  On my third attempt I think I got a little cocky and my noodles were a bit thick.  So slice your noodles thinner than I sliced mine here.  Or don't.  It's just food.  They still tasted awesome.

Here's what I've learned about making homemade pasta.  One: it's actually pretty simple and straightforward.  Two: It's best with barely any sauce.  Just go with something simple like some roasted vegetables, a little olive oil, and a bit of parmesan cheese.  Three: it may not be worth the effort.  I know that doesn't really sound like me, but when my noodles are cut correctly, I can't really tell much difference between homemade pasta and store-bought pasta.  I think this is a method best left for things like making your own ravioli.  Or somehow flavoring the pasta (Plenty has a saffron pasta I've been wanting to try).  But other than that?  I just cant decide.  Homemade tortillas? Worth the effort, no question.  Homemade pasta.........I just don't know.

But I keep making it, so I guess on some level I think it must be worth my time.  And sometimes there isn't any pasta in the pantry and you just need some pasta.

So here is how you do it.

Plop a cup of flour onto your workspace.  Create a little crater in it, sprinkle with a little salt and crack two eggs into the hole, like so:
 Take a fork and begin to incorporate the flour into the eggs by pulling from the sides of the hole.  This may get a bit messy.  The eggs do not want to stay in their little basket once you start mixing them, but it's ok.  Just get it all good and mixed up.
Now knead your dough for 5 minutes.  You will probably have to add a bit of flour to your countertop.  The dough is pretty sticky.
Roll your dough out as thin as you can get it.  Tip: start rolling from the center and roll towards you.  Turn the dough and repeat.  Try to roll it into a semi-square shape.  As I said, I am terrible at rolling dough, so mine is never square.  Don't sweat it.  
 You can use gravity to help you stretch the dough.  Just hold it up and let it hang for a few seconds.  Just be sure not to tear it.
 Place your dough on a clean towel and let about 1/3 of it drape over the side of a table.  Let that sit for ten minutes.  Move the dough so that a different area hangs off the edge of the table.  Allow to sit for ten more minutes and then rotate again.  Let sit ten more minutes (dough should sit for a total of thirty minutes).  Now you're pasta is dry enough to cut.  
 You can cut your pasta into any shape that you want.  I just really like fettuccine.  Fold top third of dough down and bottom third of dough up.  With a very sharp knife, cut super thin strips.  As I mentioned before, mine are a bit thick here.  But they will still taste great, so don't worry if they are a little chunky.

Prepare your pasta toppings and get some salty water boiling.  Fresh pasta takes about 15 seconds to cook, so you need to have everything prepared before you boil it.  Make sure you use a big pot to cook pasta, it needs some room to move around.  Throw pasta into boiling water and give it a stir.  It should float to the top of the water in less than thirty seconds.

Drain pasta immediately.  Toss with a little olive oil.  Add sauce/topping.  That's it.

Who knew you could make homemade pasta so easily?  And without the KitchenAid pasta attachment!?  You rock.  Now go brag to your friends about how cool you are.

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