Homemade Pasta

With today’s modern conveniences, we normally think of pasta as coming out of a box, but it’s a food that was traditionally handmade.  Fresh-made pasta is so different than the hard, crunchy, dry stuff from a box, and it has so much more flavor.  If you make it correctly, it’s soft, pliable, and doughy.  It only gets boiled briefly before it’s ready to eat, perfectly al dente (which means “to the tooth” in Italian).

Pasta is traditionally made with semolina flour, but my friend and I made a batch with all purpose flour and a batch with semolina flour to be able to compare.  With the semolina flour, we used the recipe from the back of the semolina flour, and with the all purpose flour, we used a recipe from Gabriele Corcos, a real Italian with a cooking show on the Cooking Chanel called “Extra Virgin.”  I referred to Gabriele Corcos’ recipe for Duck Ragu with Homemade Pappardelle.

The basic method for making pasta dough is to make a mound with the flour and to put a well in the middle.  Pour the wet ingredients into the well and swirl with the surrounding flour until it becomes doughy.  Then move to kneading.  The paperwork with your pasta maker will come with directions for making the dough as well.

The hardest part of this homemade pasta is getting the dough into a thin sheet with pasta rollers.  I used my mom’s hand-crank, stand-alone pasta maker with about 10 thicknesses.  The basic strategy is to feed the dough in first through the 1st thickness about 4 times until pliable and then to move up one increment each time until you reach the desired thickness.  My mom’s pasta maker also had an attachment which cut the spaghetti for you, so feeding the now long sheet of dough through yields cut strips of pasta.

When you’re ready to boil the pasta, it should be in salted water, and it should only be for about 3 minutes.  It’s fresh and soft, so it doesn’t take long to cook through.  I served my pasta with homemade Mornay sauce, which is a Bechamel with lots of cheese (I used fontina and gouda) melted in and fresh herbs.  Both kinds of pasta were delicious, but I found I liked the one made with all purpose flour better because it was less grainy.  But to each his own!  Here’s a bowl of my beautiful homemade pasta dish:

I hope you try making your own homemade pasta, because although it’s lengthy and difficult, it’s well worth it.  It’s also the perfect thing to try making with a friend because you’ll definitely need an extra set of hands.  Enjoy!

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