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Saturday, 6 August 2011

Homemade Pasta

So this is how I make my own pasta. I tend to only do it when I want control over it. I think things like ravioli and tortellini really require the extra effort because I want to prepare the filling myself but long stuff like pappardelle I just use dried unless I want to colour it with squid ink (or something else fancypants that again requires control).

Ok. First of all, unless you've got a three foot long rolling pin and a huge workspace... you need a pasta machine. You simply can't get the pasta thin enough in a small area. Make sure you buy a decent one. Mine is crap so it requires a lot of effort and cursing to get the pasta rolled correctly. Buy a really good one with nice heavy rollers. Buy a pasta cutter too... they cost bugger-all (£3 for mine) and make all the difference presentation-wise with ravioli.

There are loads of different recipes for pasta. Some are as simple as water and semolina flour, others call for eggs and tipo 00 flour, some call for all the above!.... like all things Italian, there are so many variations that there isn't a definitive recipe.

Here's mine:

Serves 2-3

75g semolina flour
125g tipo 00 flour
1 whole egg
2-3 egg yolks (depending on the size of the egg)
Tablespoon of olive oil
Semolina flour to dust (semolina flour is absolutely essential in my opinion when making pasta)

First of all, get a large mixing bowl. Some people do it on the work surface but it can get quite messy. Put your flour and semolina flour in the bowl and make a well in the middle.

In a separate bowl or jug, whisk together your egg, egg yolks and olive oil. Pour the egg mixture into the well in the flour and start pulling the flour into the egg with a fork. Once it gets a bit tough for the fork, get your hands in there and bring it together. If it's too sticky, add a little 00 flour; if it's too hard and dry, add a little olive oil or water.

Once you have the right consistency (roughly the same as bread but without the elasticity), knead for 5-10 mins, roll into a ball, wrap it in cling-film and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Once it's been in fridge for half an hour, chop it into 3 or 4 pieces ready for rolling.

Dust your work surface with semolina flour and have more on hand for when you need it.

Roll out a piece of dough with a rolling pin so it resembles a pitta bread. You then need to start putting the pasta through the machine.

The settings on the machine usually go from 1 (thickest) to 9 (thinnest) so make sure the machine is on 1 before you start. Put the pasta through the lowest setting a couple of times and then progress up the settings until you get the desired thickness. I would say that you want about 7 for tagliatelle, linguine or pappardelle; and 8 or 9 for ravioli or tortellini (I personally find 9 a little too thin). Flour the pasta with semolina flour periodically to make sure it doesn't stick together. You may have to cut the sheets in half  as they get rather long and hard to manage.

Once you have the pasta at the required thickness, cut it to the desired shape and place on a tray which has been dusted with semolina flour. If you are making long pasta like linguine be very careful that it doesn't end up being tangled up and stuck together. Again, I cannot stress the importance of semolina flour when making pasta, it makes life so much easier and prevents it sticking together beautifully.

So your done! Fresh homemade pasta! Boil a pan of salted water and it's ready to cook.

Your pasta will only take a minute or so to cook so be careful, it can go extremely soggy even if over cooked for a few seconds!

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