Can I tell you a secret? Sometimes I lack all confidence in the kitchen. It’s true. Sometimes a project will keep me up at night. Sometimes the ingredient list will just baffle me. Sometimes I hold my breath as I incorporate the ingredients, or I second guess myself and reread the recipe with every turn of my spatula.
It’s the absolute truth. Sometimes I just need someone to hold my hand through a new recipe… or I at least need to be allowed to throw my hands up and call uncle at any point during the process.
I tell you all this so you know that when I stepped in the kitchen to make pasta this past weekend… well… I was totally intimidated. I wasn’t sure I could pull this off.
I know… I know… everyone was telling me how easy it was. Frankly, I was convinced they were liar liarpants. For real. Handmade pasta!? Easy? Not possible.
Well, let me be honest. Pasta isn’t as entirely easy as everyone would have me believe. That’s not to say it’s impossibly hard…. not at all. For me, making pasta by hand just involves a little talking to myself, a big area where I could throw flour all around, a rolling pin and willingness for a good arm work out, and a few hours set aside for doughing… mostly just patting it, talking to it, and walking around the house showing it to whatever family member would pay attention to me.
The end result is beyond… BEYOND comforting. The process was super satisfying, and really? So Much Fun! Pasta! I made pasta! Daaang! I’m going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for this one. Don’t mind me… I’ll be done in a minute.
Pasta is pretty straight forward. Flour and eggs, mixed, rolled, cut and boiled. But. And there’s always a but. What kind of flour do you use? There’s 00 flour. There’s semolina. There’s all-purpose flour… and don’t even get me started on the combinations! I used all-purpose flour because I wanted to experiment with a recipe that you could easily replicate at home. We’re in this together, right?
There is one thing worth noting…. this one is a big deal. Pay attention to egg size with this recipe from Mario Batali. All of the baking recipes that I post call for large egg. Large eggs are standard baking practice. This recipe calls for extra-large eggs. You’ll need that added moisture. It’s important.
Here’s a snazzy step-by-step followed by the recipe and official instructions. Yea? Yea!
Six eggs and a dash of olive oil in a flour well. Things are about to get good.
Whisk up the eggs and slowly bring in the flour. Cool. I’m totally playing with my food!
Coming together. Getting there!
This might just be a ball of dough! Almost! Dang I’m good. Confidence is growing.
I had a lot of the initial 5 cups of flour left over. I decided that was ok. I dumped the excess in the trash. So there.
The sixth and final cup of flour got sprinkled on the counter and put to work inside the pasta dough.
But I even had some of the last cup of flour left over!
Excess flour is fine fine fine! Look how pretty this dough ball is!
After a 30 minute rest it’s time to roll this beast out. Roll and roll and roll….
and roll and roll… until I just couldn’t roll anymore. Then it’s time to slice.
Slice and slice and slice and slice.
What do you think? Your turn?
Want a little YouTube courage? I watched this video before I started my pasta adventure. It was nice to see a visual.
Homemade and Handmade Pasta
recipe from Mario Batali
5 to 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour
6 extra-large eggs
3/4 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Make pasta dough:
Put 5 cups flour in a 12-inch-wide mound on a work surface. Make a 6-inch-wide well in center (down to work surface) with fist. (The outer wall should be 1 1/2 to 2 inches high.)
Break eggs into well and add oil. Beat eggs and oil together with a fork, then gradually beat in flour from inner side of well wall, keeping wall intact while mixture is runny, until it comes together in a cohesive, kneadable mass (about two thirds of flour from mound will have been incorporated).
Knead dough with floured hands, incorporating just enough flour on work surface until dough no longer sticks to hands. (It will still be a little tacky; you will have flour left over.)
Set dough aside and scrape up and discard flour from work surface
Lightly reflour work surface using some of remaining cup flour and continue to knead dough, reflouring hands often, until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes more. (Dough should still be slightly tacky.)
Form dough into a ball, then dust well with flour and wrap in plastic wrap. Let dough rest 30 minutes at room temperature.
Rolling out the Pasta:
Here’s where the arm work out comes in.
Unwrap the dough from the plastic wrap. If the dough is sticky.. mine was… just dust it with flour. Cut the dough in half, put half on the big clean counter where you’re going to roll the pasta out, and rewrap the other half so it doesn’t dry out.
Lightly dust your work surface with rice flour or a little bit of all-purpose flour. Slowly and evenly begin to roll the dough out. Flip and twist the dough on the counter top to ensure that it isn’t sticking. If spots are sticking, lift the dough and lightly dust the surface with flour and continue rolling.
How thin do you need to roll the dough? Thinner than you think, it’ll plump up when cooked. I rolled mine thin enough so that I could vaguely see a magazine cover when placed under the dough. It should be thin enough to see something under it. Yea?
Once rolled out, take a pizza cutter and cut strips in your desired thickness. I made fettuccine sized noodles, but you can go just thinner for linguine or fatter for pappardelle… or even fatter for lasagna noodles. Just eyeball it if you have a steady hand. You can do it!
Once sliced, I loosely piled up the fresh noodles with just a bit of flour so they didn’t stick. I re-floured and fluffed them every once in a while just to make sure they didn’t stick. Loosely cover the cut noodles with plastic wrap and begin to roll and cut out the other half of dough.
Don’t want to cook your pasta right away? Want to store it? Here’s how!
Cooking your Pasta:
Once all your pasta is rolled and sliced, bring 8 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons of kosher salt to the boiling water and add half of the cut pasta. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes until al dente. Remove cooked pasta from boiling water with tongs, and drop in the other half of cut pasta to cook. Drain all of the cooked pasta in a colander. Do not rinse.
Sauce? How about a big ol’ Bolognese? Recipe coming soon!